The 2009-10 Florida State women’s golf team completed one of their finest seasons in school history. They won three tournaments, came in second twice and finished the year in 10th place in the NCAA Championships. The future looks bright for the Lady Seminoles as only two of the golfers are graduating and five of the top six will be returning.
Tenth place is their best finish so far in the NCAA tournament, but they did place higher in national level tournaments that preceded the NCAA. The NCAA did not govern women’s athletics until the 1981-82 school year and the Lady Seminoles did not join the NCAA until the next season.
Women’s golf did not become a varsity sport until 1968 when Florida State hosted the Fifth Annual Florida Intercollegiate Golf Tournament for women; however, FSU had some excellent women golfers before then. Jo Ann Whitaker and Mary Lena Faulk are two of those golfers. They were probably good enough to make the men’s team in 1948 as they both shot close to women’s par which translated to about six extra strokes from the men’s tees. Whitaker won the Florida Women’s State Amateur Tournament that year and Faulk later joined the LPGA and became an outstanding player.
In 1968 the governing body for women was the Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (CIAW), and they first sponsored Division of Girl’s and Women’s Sport (DGWS) tournaments starting in 1969-70. In the 1972 DGWS Golf Championship, Florida State tied for second place with Arizona when the two-member team of Cynthia Peterka and Janet Lester shot 641, two shots behind Miami.
The next year the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) replaced the CIAW and beginning in 1977 FSU was a regular in the AIAW finals. Colleen Walker, Linda Lupica and Patti Belcher led the 1977 and 1978 teams to 13th and 15th place finishes. Laurie Rusk and Lea Ann Duke in 1977 and Fran Kocsis and Debbie Warford in 1978 were also important team members.In 1979, Michele Guilbault and Lisa Young , two freshmen from Canada made up a key part of the team for the next four years. The duo, along with Linda Rankin, Lupica and Warford came in 23rd that year.
In 1980, two additional freshmen, Jane Geddes from South Carolina and Marla Anderson from Jacksonville provided two more pieces of the puzzle. Anderson, Guilbault, Young, Geddes along with Nancy Scranton improved to 15th place in 1980 and looked to do even better the next year.Barbara Bunkowsky, another golfer from Canada and a junior college transfer, joined the team in 1981. The 1981 team won four tournaments and finished in the top four in all ten tournaments they entered during the year, but they were still not considered the favorites at the championships being played in Athens; that honor went to the Georgia Bulldogs. (Pictured at the top is the '81 team. Standing: Barbara Bunkowsky, Michele Guilbault, Head Coach Verlyn Giles, Lisa Young. Kneeling: Jane Geddes and Marla Anderson.)
After the first two rounds the Lady Seminoles were in third place, eight shots behind Georgia and four behind Tulsa. The ladies came through on the third round and shot a 298, tying the best round of the tournament. That gave them a one shot lead over the Bulldogs going into the final round. The two teams were neck-and-neck that last day and Georgia actually led through the 17th hole, but key birdies by the Seminoles and bogies by the Bulldogs opened the door for FSU and the team of Lisa Young, Barbara Bunkowsky, Jane Geddes, Michele Guilbault and Marla Anderson won FSU’s first national golf championship. Young finished the tournament in 3rd place, one stroke behind the leaders and Bunkowsky placed 14th. Young, Bunkowsky and Guilbault earned AIAW All-American honors.The five teammates were back for the 1982 season and did well, but Guilbault was unable to compete in the 1982 AIAW tournament because of a back injury and the team finished in 10th place. Bunkowsky again earned All-American honors.
Because of their outstanding play, Bunkowsky was inducted into the FSU Sports Hall of Fame in 1984, Geddes in 1988, Young in 1990, Walker in 1991 and Guilbault in 1998. All five of these Lady Seminoles had successful pro careers with Guilbault playing on the Futures Tour and the rest on the LPGA. All won at least one tournament led by Geddes who captured 11 tour events including two majors, Walker with nine victories counting one major and Lisa (Young) Walters with three tour wins.
I look forward to seeing if our current lady golfers can follow the same formula as the group before them and have the same success.