Spring 2017

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Emily Fletcher has created one of the country’s top golf programs.

Beth Miller and Emily Fletcher
Women's golf coaches Beth Miller, left, and Emily Fletcher celebrate the team's 2016 Big Ten title.

When Pat Goss, Northwestern’s director of golf, offered Emily Fletcher the women’s head coaching job in 2008, he was asking her to take a risk. Fletcher had spent two decades as a highly respected instructional professional for high-level amateurs and LPGA Tour pros when Goss cast a vision of the program that Fletcher could not turn down.

The athletic department said they would do whatever needed to be done to elevate women’s golf, Fletcher says. “There was a belief that the golf program could be elite.”

Now in Fletcher’s ninth season, the program has become elite, with the top-end talent and competitive depth to beat the nation’s best. In late May Northwestern finished second to Arizona State University at the 2017 NCAA Championships. The second-place finish is the best in program history for Northwestern.

Led recently by two-time Big Ten Player of the Year Hannah Kim, the Wildcats have won three of the last five Big Ten titles (finishing second to Michigan State in 2017) and earned the program’s best-ever finish at the NCAA Championships in each of the last five years. Fletcher was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in four of the last six seasons.

But it was not always easy for Fletcher, Goss and longtime assistant Beth Miller to sell their early recruits on their vision, especially at a northern school in a sport traditionally dominated by teams from warm climates. Kim, a junior from Chula Vista, Calif., says the strong, trusting relationships Fletcher builds with her players helped convince her that Northwestern was the place for her.

Fletcher credits a larger change in mindset for transforming the program overall. “The kids who are here now are attracting the next group that will carry on this legacy,” she says. “The belief now comes from within our team.”