Nicole Rae hardly frets over her short game during those occasionally lengthy train rides into Chicago.
A Big Ten women’s golfer interning for the Big Ten Network, the St. Charles East product finds the newfound confidence in her putting parlays itself in other areas, too.
Everything builds from golf. Rae advanced to the championship semifinals of last week’s IWGA state women’s amateur at Bloomington’s Crestwicke Country Club one year after bowing out in the first flight. The Iowa senior-to-be credited her climb to putting above all.
“Just a lot of repetition, a lot of drills, just anything to really build confidence,” Rae said. “I think that is something for me in the spring that I started to struggle with a little bit, just always maintaining my confidence and doing the best that I could, and a lot of it was frustration with struggles with the short game.”
Rae took eventual champion Lexi Harkins of Crystal Lake to the 18th hole of her match-play semifinal before Harkins made a clutch putt of her own to win, 1-up.
“Had a pretty good go,” Rae said. “A bummer, for sure, but definitely an improvement from last year.”
That development fits a pattern. Rae competed in a career-high eight tournaments and 23 rounds for the Hawkeyes as a junior, shaving her 18-hole average from 81.42 to 79.09.
Her 74 at the Westbrook Invitational in February in Peoria, Arizona, marked a career-best round. She also established a new 54-hole best by 10 strokes at the same event.
Rae hopes a busy summer tournament schedule – including next month’s U.S. Women’s Amateur qualifier at Homewood’s Ravisloe Country Club – keeps her trending downward.
Remember, in golf, that’s a good thing.
“We’re going to have a really strong schedule this year,” Rae said, “and I think it’ll be a really good year for me. A senior-year golf thing.”
In step with the notable NCAA public service announcement, Rae figures she’ll “go pro in something other than sports” when she graduates. She aspires to a career in sports broadcasting, and looks to her internship in the Big Ten Network’s marketing program as a stepping stone.
“Sports broadcasting or any broadcasting, it’s a lot about who you know and who’s in your network,” Rae said. “I’ve just been trying to broaden my network, make some connections and see where it takes me.”
Much of her work this month has revolved around an upcoming Big Ten-sponsored 5K and 10K run at Soldier Field that helps usher in the college football season.
She did some mock broadcast work during a TV news production class in the spring and will look to get involved as much as possible with student-run TV broadcasts in the fall.
Her schedule revolves around golf commitments, but that also could work the other way. If Rae approaches her career as she has putting lately, she should like her chances.
• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.
Furrie enjoys on-the-job training
Ariana Furrie is leaning toward entering next month’s U.S. Women’s Amateur qualifier at Homewood’s Ravisloe Country Club.
Until then, the former St. Charles North standout is honing her game in a more recreational but still effective way.
Furrie enjoys free rounds as a summer employee of Hilldale Golf Club in Hoffman Estates. She helps book tee times before setting out on her own.
“I’ve been practicing a lot, basically, and working, too, so takes a lot out of my day,” Furrie said.
Furrie shined in her freshman season at NCAA Division I Wagner College in Staten Island, New York, averaging a team-low 81 to earn 2014 Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year. She also was named to the NEC’s all-conference second team.
By the time the spring season rolled around, Furrie already had plenty of time to get acclimated to her ultrametropolitan surroundings.
“It was OK. I had a good time,” Furrie said. “It’s a different setting, but it’s easy to get used to. It’s similar to here; a different place, but still busier.”
Reynolds pays tribute
Marmion wrestling assistant Donny Reynolds capped a recent busy stretch by playing in Monday’s Ken Gerdes Cup, a memorial for the late former Providence wrestler, at Broken Arrow in Lockport.
Reynolds, a Providence alumnus, had flown back from Daytona Beach, Florida, early Sunday after helping coach Team Illinois to a title at Cadet Freestyle Nationals over the weekend.
– Kevin Druley, firstname.lastname@example.org