(Editor’s note: Story by Montana Sports Information)
BOULDER CITY, NV – Montana senior Hailey Hoagland was named honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference on Thursday, the day before the league championship opens at the Boulder Creek Golf Club in Boulder City, Nev.
Hoagland, who has a season stroke average of 75.96 and has been the Grizzlies’ low scorer at four of the team’s five spring tournaments, was one of 20 golfers recognized by the Big Sky.
The all-conference teams are generated using a points system based on Golfstat and Golfweek national rankings, and each player’s adjusted score to par according to Golfstat.
The top five players in the rankings earn first-team honors. The next five make second team, with five on the third team and five who are named honorable mention.
Hoagland is the first Montana player to make the list, which has gone through multiple formulations over the years, from computer rankings to voting by the league’s coaches to placement at the championship, since Barbora Bakova earned first-team honors in 2015.
Idaho’s Sophie Hausmann, who had the Big Sky’s top metric, was named the Player of the Year and made first team for a third time.
Championship favorite Sacramento State had two of the five players on the first team and placed three more on the second team.
Hoagland finished with a season stroke average of 79.6 as a freshman and dropped that to 78.0 as a sophomore and finished at 78.4 as a junior.
She shot a 69 in September in the second round at the Battle at Old Works in Anaconda and has been playing the most consistent golf of her life ever since.
Her last five rounds have all been played at 75 or better, with scores of 71, 72 and 72 two weeks ago to tie for fifth in a talented field at the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic.
That lowered her season average to 75.96. Bakova, with an average of 75.52 in 2014-15, is the only other golfer in program history to play a season to an average better than 76.
Talking about how her approach to competitive golf has evolved over the years on Tuesday, Hoagland said she has reached a level of homeostasis, a rare balance to strike with such a fickle sport. She just no longer stresses out over her game.
She takes what her swing and putter are giving her on a particular day and makes the best of it.
“I agree so much with how she is approaching her golf. It’s just a real mature way to handle what goes on in collegiate golf, and she’s living it, so it’s been fun to watch,” said first-year coach Kris Nord, who spent more than three decades coaching men’s tennis at Montana.
“For my first 35 years of tennis, we talked about the kid who would go out and grind, and that means to play the best tennis you can when you don’t have your best. You accept it and can still win matches.
“Hailey is an example of going out and grinding it out on the golf course. She gets the best score out of what she’s got that day. That’s what you want as a coach.”
Hoagland had her first career top-10 finish in the fall, tying for seventh at the Pat Lesser-Harbottle Invitational.
She finished in the top 15 at all three tournaments the Grizzlies played in on their extended Arizona road trip at the end of March and early April, highlighted by her finish at the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic, a tournament that included Sacramento State.
That performance has put her on the short list of contenders for this weekend’s Big Sky Championship.
“I hope she keeps it going, because she’s been steady as heck,” said Nord, who’s golfed with the Butte native at fundraising events that predate the golfer’s arrival at Montana.
“I get a little nervous, because it’s her last tournament, her senior-year championship. I hope she can block all that out and just go play. If she does, she’ll do great.”