For a team of only five players, a new head coach has the potential to dramatically affect the team’s inner dynamic. For the women’s golf team, the arrival of new head coach Marissa O’Neil has served to increase their confidence and performance.

O’Neil received the coaching position after former Head Coach Gerard Caron decided to step down to assistant coach for personal reasons last August.

“I’m passionate about the sport. It was a good fit,” O’Neil said.  

O’Neil, who has had no previous experience coaching golf, has been the head coach of the women’s ice hockey team at Bowdoin since 2010.

Though early in the season, players are posting their lowest scores yet. Sophomore Kendall Kyritz was the medalist at a match against Bates last weekend, posting a 79, a new personal best. 

Kyritz contributes much of the team’s recent success to O’Neil. 

“We all love her so much. She’s been an amazing addition to our team,” Kyritz said. “I don’t think the season could have started off this well without her.”

Bowdoin won matches against Bates the past two consecutive weekends, scoring 723-893 September 9 and 353-397 last weekend.

The team will play in large tournaments the next three weekends, starting with the Mt. Holyoke Invitational this Saturday. The courses at these tournaments are larger than the Brunswick golf course, posing a challenge to the team.

The team has been forced to specifically adapt their practice regimen to prepare for these larger courses. Instead of swinging from the women-designated forward tees, the team is practicing from the men’s tees to work on driving a longer yardage and, according to O’Neil, build confidence.

O’Neil said that because the team played these same tournaments last year, “there is a new level of comfort and less unknowns. There is more excitement for these three tournaments, rather than nerves.”

“This season is going to go pretty smoothly,” Kyritz said. “We’ve created a relaxing environment, which is important when nerves can make you not play well.”