Grafton golfer strives to return to short game success during freshman spring season
Grafton freshman Danielle Sawyer isn't known as a big hitter, but she has a great short game.
Growing up as a multi-sport athlete, Sawyer brings something valuable to the Central Michigan golf program — a strong work ethic.
She played golf, soccer, and hockey at St. Mary Catholic in Grafton, Ontario.
Sawyer led the nation in fewest putts per round in the Fall 2016 season, averaging 28.89 a round in 18 holes. She shot a school record even par 72 during the second day of the Rocket Classic last fall and set the program record for a two-day score with a 150 and finished tied for 11 — the highest finish for any golfer last fall.
Her performance in the spring season has not been to the same level as the fall. Sawyer currently averages 82.54 for 18 holes, with her lowest round coming in at 81 on the first day of the Grand Canyon Women's Spring Invitational in March.
Sawyer understands golf is a game of give and take.
"I've been struggling a little bit," she said about her spring performance so far. "Some days it's up, some days it's down. I'm just trying to get it back to where it was at in the fall."
Putts over Slap Shots
Head coach Cheryl Stacy met Sawyer in the summer of 2015 at an American Junior Golf Association event in Boyne.
“She hadn’t commit(ed) anywhere,” Stacy said. “Her scores were a bit up and down.”
After Sawyer put her clubs away for the season, she laced up her skates and hit the ice. She played hockey all four years of high school as a center with good hands and a presence on defense.
"I was a grinder," Sawyer said. "I was a rough player, I drew a lot of penalties. I was in a lot of plays and with my size (standing at 5'3") I would fall over a lot because someone caused it."
Sawyer decided to continue her golf career after high school because she appreciated the challenge.
“I really loved hockey," she said. "Golf was always a tricky challenge because you’re only playing yourself. (In hockey) referees could dictate the game, (and) you (could) blame your teammates. In golf, you can only blame yourself.”
Sawyer came to CMU because of the way Stacy ran a rebuilding golf program.
“I liked the culture and values (Stacy was) preaching,” Sawyer said. “I loved the atmosphere at Central. I wanted to be part of a developing team.”
Stacy highlighted Sawyer's maturity and dedication to golf and academics.
“She is probably one of our hardest workers,” Stacy said. “She’s a great student (currently carrying a 4.0 GPA), very responsible, very mature for a freshman. She wants what’s best for the team. We were fortunate to get her, I think she can have a great career here.”
Sawyer's work ethic is influenced by her favorite hockey player — Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens.
"He seemed liked he always put his head down and worked hard," Sawyer said. "He had a really bad neck injury 6 or 7 years ago. He came back from that and I always wanted to be like that."
When it comes to big moments on the course, Sawyer's ability to stay calm and think through situations helps her stay composed.
"When I'm on the course I try to think through situations, try to make the most logical decision," Sawyer said. "It doesn't always go as a I plan, but I try to see the bigger picture of things."