The Augusta State women's golf program is ready to put behind its turbulent summer.
The Lady Jaguars' season ended with five tournament victories and a first-ever postseason berth. Then barely two months later, the team lost its top two players and its head coach.
With the addition of seven-time Georgia state women's player of the year Laura Coble as the head coach, Augusta State seems to have righted the ship. In less than a month on the job, Coble is drawing rave reviews for her vast golf knowledge.
"She knows so much about the swing," junior Kristen Bragg said. "You can take advice from her and you know it's correct."
Coble's Lady Jaguars begin the 2006-07 season Monday at the Napa River Grill Cardinal Cup in Louisville, Ky. It is the first of five fall events, including the America's Choice Mortgage Lady Jaguar Invitational on Nov. 6-7.
Bragg, sophomores Emilie Geury and Anna Lindeborg, and seniors Patti Hogeboom and Amanda Smith comprise the team's starting lineup. In the program's sixth year, it'll be the first time either Lauren Smith (graduation) or Garrett Phillips (transfer to Georgia) won't be playing.
Last season, Lauren Smith and Phillips combined for 14 of the team's 25 top-20 finishes, including a pair of tournament wins. Phillips led the team in stroke average (74.68), while Smith became the first Lady Jaguar to advance to the NCAA Championship as an individual.
"We all know we lost two good players," Hogeboom said. "We have the ability to step up and play well."
The Lady Jaguars also will be playing without head coach Trelle McCombs, who left in July for Tulsa after three seasons. The school's six all-time tournament victories came during McCombs' reign.
Augusta State seems to have found a perfect fit in Coble, an alumnus who helped lead the community effort to start the Lady Jaguars program. Coble also served as a volunteer assistant coach for the program. Her transition was an easy one.
"I like the new coach," Geury said. "She's very good."
Coble, who finished second in the Georgia Women's Amateur Championship last week, will provide leadership and instruction for her squad of seven golfers. Hogeboom said Coble's already making an impact.
"In the two, three weeks of practice," she said. "I think we've all improved."
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or email@example.com.