Grace Suter | 2020 women's am

Oconomowoc’s Grace Suter follows her drive off the third tee Monday during the first round of the Women’s Amateur Championship being played at Blackhawk CC. Suter finished the round in a five-way tie for sixth.

As Grace Suter reflects now, COVID-19 played an emotional game of give-and-take as the Oconomowoc native pursued options to play college golf. 

Initially, the pause in golf altogether back home in Wisconsin in March and in competitive golf until early June was a "huge helper" to Suter. It gave her time to expand her recruiting horizons after opting to graduate high school early and spend the spring semester at Mike Bender Academy in Florida. 

"It allowed me to get better and improve without having the pressure of any tournaments on my mind," Suter wrote in an email interview with Wisconsin.Golf. "It led to four uninterrupted months of practice on skills. However, after the four months was over it started to bite me in the butt."

Indeed, once the NCAA canceled the spring golf season and awarded current college golfers an additional year of eligibility for what was lost during 2019-20 and, ultimately, another for what has been lost and still uncertain in 2020-21, the number of golfers on college rosters essentially stood still. That took away many of the opportunities Suter might have found had college golf enjoyed its typical circle of life with incoming freshmen eager to replace departed seniors.

COVID-19 restrictions also prevented college coaches from watching her and seeing for themselves the immense improvement the 5-foot-3 Suter enjoyed last summer when she finished fourth at the Wisconsin Women's State Open, and second at both The Sherri Steinhauer and The Dells Junior Championship. By deferring her college decision to 2021, Suter moved into a share of the No. 1 ranking in the Wisconsin.Golf Class of 2021 girls state rankings.

"I guess I didn't realize that, even if you were shooting good scores, coaches didn't (believe) it unless they saw it, which in hindsight makes sense," Suter wrote. "So I set out on the seemingly endless process of emailing every coach that had a (Division) I program, hoping that COVID left them with a spot I could fill."

Ultimately, she estimates she sent out "at least 75 emails" to coaches at some of the nearly 250 NCAA Division I programs. In December, Suter told Wisconsin.Golf that she had opportunities — not necessarily scholarship offers, but the promise of a roster spot and the chance to compete for playing time — from several Division I schools and, late last month, Suter chose the one at Loyola (Ill.) in Chicago over Butler University in Indianapolis, California Baptist University in Riverside and Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.

"Loyola just seemed to make the most sense," Suter wrote. "I knew some of the girls on the team. I really liked Coach (Carly) Werwie and it was conveniently located in Chicago, not too far from home."

Indeed, Suter will become the third Wisconsin golfer to play for Werwie, a former University of Wisconsin golfer who is in her third season as Ramblers coach after playing competitively on the Symetra Tour and then serving as a volunteer assistant at Carthage College in Kenosha. Suter will join Menomonee Falls' Lorenza Martinez and Middleton's Kate Meier.

Martinez led Loyola at the Missouri Valley Conference Championship in 2019 when the Ramblers shot a pair of 304s and were tied for fourth in the 10-team event after two rounds only to close with a 327 and drop into eighth place. Three of the golfers from that team are still on the roster and, after COVID-19 canceled the spring season and denied Loyola a chance to measure growth in 2020, it will look to get that chance this spring before Suter arrives in the fall with Jolie Brochu of Goodrich, Mich., and Cate Reisinger of Park Ridge, Ill.

"I wasn't allowed to take a visit due to COVID and flying restrictions," Suter wrote. "However, I did have quite a few calls with Coach Werwie and, right from the get-go, I loved her energy over the phone and knew that she was going to be a great coach. She reminded me a lot of my high school coach, Coach (Jason) Dahl, with her energy and positive outlook."

After a recruiting process that grew more frustrating the longer it went, Suter said that outlook — and opportunity attached to it — was much-appreciated.

"Throughout my months of emailing ... it was just rejection after rejection," Suter wrote, "with the common line of 'Sorry, you'd make a great addition to our team, but unfortunately our roster is too full and the administration is cutting our budgets ... I hope you find a good fit.' At first, I took it personally and wanted to just stop asking, but my dad pushed me and asked me 'Are you really going to give up now after all you've accomplished?'

"Finally, I started to make some headway and started to get some responses for walk-on spots and maybe some scholarship. So, after about four months of emailing and talking to coaches, I had a few opportunities that fit what I was looking for."

Loyola not only offered Suter an opportunity to pursue her dreams athletically, but its Quinlan School of Business ranks No. 81 in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report and checked a key box for the future accounting major. Her goal is to get her MBA and land a job with one of accounting's Big Four firms, she wrote.

In the meantime, Suter can't wait to get down to business and see how the improvements she has made at the Mike Bender Academy translate at the college level.

"I see myself fitting in well," Suter wrote. "I've gotten to text with some of my future teammates and they seem like great ladies! On the scoring side, I feel I will fit right in. My scoring average right now is 74 to 75 and I know it will get lower, leading me to be a good contributor to the team. ... As far as (the program's) expectations, the best way I can describe what I think they are is to just go out and put 100 percent effort into everything I do — from practice to schoolwork to the golf course."

Girls Class of 2021

College selections on this list are updated regularly. To share updates on the decisions of high school seniors, email Rob Hernandez at rob@killarneygolfmedia.com

No. First name Last name High school Nov.
2019
July
2019
Nov.
2018
Nov.
2017
College
1, Jo Baranczyk Bay Port 1 1 1 1 North Dakota State
tie, Grace Suter Oconomowoc 6* 9* 7* 20* Loyola (Ill.)
3, Elise Hoven Cedarburg 2 2 2 2 North Dakota State
4, Caylie Kotlowski Stoughton 3 3 3 5 UW-Green Bay
5, Kallie Lux Janesville Craig 6 9 4 3 UW-Whitewater
6, Glenna Sanderson Middleton 4 8 8 NR TBA (academics)
7, Jolie Guyette De Pere 8 5 25 NR Mesa (Ariz.) CC
8, Reagan Stuke Kettle Moraine 10 17 NR NR Tennessee Tech
9, Paige Hillman Hudson 5 NR NR NR Sioux Falls (S.D.)
10, Amanda Karvala New Berlin Eisenhower 13 7 15 NR Waldorf (Iowa)
11, Alyssa Schmidt Oregon 7 21 11 NR Taylor (Ind.)
12, Ellie Behring Oak Creek 12 11 20 15 Winona (Minn.) State
13, Grace Miller Oshkosh North 11 NR NR NR
14, Lauren Haen Appleton Xavier 15 12 9 10
15, Sydney Grimm Waunakee 23 24 24 NR UW-Stout
16, Aly Kinzel Waunakee 18 14 7 4
17, Jilli Newman Madison Memorial 40 NR NR NR
18, Kyley Wipper Brookfield Central 27 NR NR NR
19, Maya Heckmann Lakeside Lutheran 16 10 14 13
20, Faith Flynn Green Bay NEW Luth. 9 NR NR NR
21, Madeline Kiley Kimberly 30 NR NR NR UW-Stout
tie, Grace Weiss Milton/Shattuck St. Mary's 24 18 NR NR
22, Bridget McCarthy Madison Memorial 34 25 25 18 UW-La Crosse
24, Ashley Stanislawski Catholic Memorial 29 NR NR NR
25, Jaden Woiwode River Falls 26 NR NR NR UW-Eau Claire
26, Veronica Parco Union Grove 20 13 12 19
27, Zjeneexa Vang Sheboygan North/South 17 NR NR NR
28, CJ Romero Brookfield Central 21 NR NR NR Northern Michigan (basketball)
29, Kylie Lanza Hartland Arrowhead 22 NR NR NR Boston College (academics)
30, Erin Rosencrantz Brookfield Central 28 NR NR NR
31, Isa Pierri Glendale Nicolet 36 6 16 NR
32, Amber Nguyen Onalaska 38 20 10 8
33, Jada Chang Hartland Arrowhead 31 NR NR NR
34, Natalie Hoege Waunakee NR NR NR NR
35, Reagan Moisson Milton NR NR NR NR
36, Allie Gosenheimer Brookfield Central NR NR NR NR
37, Grace Jaeger Madison Edgewood 25 15 6 9
38, Claire Fugate Franklin NR NR NR NR
39, Caitlyn Hegenbarth Madison Edgewood 14 4 5 6 TBA (academics)
40, Jackie Wallin Ladysmith NR NR NR NR
41, Courtney Draeger Jefferson 32 NR NR NR Viterbo University
42, Ana Kielley Madison Memorial 33 NR NR NR
43, Taylor Peper Sheboygan North/South 19 NR NR NR
44, Sophie Denure Portage 39 23 23 NR
45, Izzie Mort Whitefish Bay 35 16 21 16
46, Leah Minchk Muskego 37 19 NR NR
47, Jasmine Yang Wausau East/West NR NR NR
48, Jasmine Yang Wausau East/West NR NR NR NR
49, Haley Prudomme Menomonee Falls NR NR NR NR
50, Brooke Vandeberg Appleton NR NR NR NR
* = Class of 2020
HM Zoey Cruz-Eisenbraun Sun Prairie NR NR NR 17 Marian University

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