The men’s golf team won’t be Chapman’s only team on the golf course this year.
Chapman’s newest spring sport, women’s golf, is set to debut in the 2016-17 school year. It will be the school’s 21st varsity sport, with 10 men’s programs and 11 women’s programs.
Women’s golf is one of four new athletic programs to arrive at Chapman in the past five years. The university’s entrance into the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) in 2011 led to the addition of women’s golf, men’s track and field, women’s lacrosse and men’s swimming and diving teams.
“The addition of women’s golf is the final step in meeting our SCIAC agreement to get our sports aligned with what the conference offers at other schools,” said Doug Aiken, Chapman’s associate director of athletics.
Ming Lao, who is the current head coach of the men’s golf team, will also coach the women’s team. Lao is in his third year as the Panthers’ head coach but spent the previous four seasons as an assistant golf coach for Chapman.
“I’m really looking for as many athletes as I can get. Six to 10 would be ideal,” Lao said. “A lot of my recruiting has started locally but has room to look out east as well.”
While there are no women recruited so far for the team, Lao and Aiken are on a search for prospective athletes.
“We will need at least four women to compete to be a qualifying team,” Aiken said.
President Jim Doti shared his enthusiasm about the new addition to Chapman athletics.
“It’s amazing how far Chapman athletics has come over the years. I’m proud to end my presidency on a high note in the athletic department with all of the additions to our varsity sports roster,” Doti said. “It makes our school more appealing and well-rounded to prospective students.”
Senior women’s lacrosse player Kelsey Mackin said it’s always great to see women’s sports added to campus.
“It made such an impact on funding when women’s lacrosse moved from club to varsity level,” she said.
The Panthers’ home course is the Tustin Ranch Golf Club where the men’s team currently practices and hosts matches against multiple schools. It will also soon be home to the women’s team, which will host separate matches than the men.
There is currently no official schedule set for the upcoming season, Aiken said.