Athletics Q&A: Maura Ballard

The coach of Drew’s newest varsity sport—golf—dishes on the inaugural season and that tricky spot on the Rangers’ home course.

You were a highly successful coach of men’s and women’s golf at Rutgers for 22 years before coming to Drew. What was the draw?
I had a wonderful career at Rutgers, but I was ready for something new. The more I looked into Drew and learned about its prestige and wonderful sense of community, the more I knew it was a good fit.

After running a Division I program, you’re now building a Division III program. How has that been?
It’s a totally different experience, like a rebirth of my coaching career. Some high school players aren’t well versed on what DIII offers, so I’m opening their eyes to see that there is competitive golf at the DIII level and also very serious academics.

You started your first varsity season with seven men and five women, most of them first-year students.
I’ve told my players this is going to be a process, that we’re going to slowly build a team, and maybe within four years we’ll be one of the best in the conference—that’s our goal. But they were looking around at each other at our first practice, and one said, “Coach, we’re going to be pretty good this year, aren’t we?” and I said, “That’s the hope, but don’t tell anybody.” [Editor’s note: The team capped the year successfully at the inaugural Landmark Conference Golf Championships in May—the women’s team with a second-place finish and the men’s team with a sixth-place finish.]

And you’ve found a spot to practice on campus?
We’re converting a racquetball court in Simon Forum into an indoor golf center. We have portable nets and a putting green, and we’re going to put in a short-game practice area for pitch and putt all year long. On my wish list is a golf simulator with a movie screen.

What’s the toughest spot on the team’s home course, Spring Brook Country Club in Morristown?
They have three par 3 holes in a row—9, 10 and 11—and two are over a pond. It’s very challenging when you’re facing a shot over water two holes in a row.

You have a 3 handicap and have won several state amateur titles yourself. Have you splashed any balls in that pond?
No, not yet, but I’m sure there may be some in my future!

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