There is a familiar refrain from golf coaches everywhere: If you want to improve your golf scores, improve your short game.
That is what University of Washington sophomore golfer Camille Boyd did after a freshman season she was not pleased with.
Boyd has lowered her score more than four strokes per round, and in her last event — the Juli Inkster Invitational in Fairfax, California — she finished first of 74 and set the Huskies’ scoring record with a 14-under 202 over three rounds.
Boyd, who got her first college win, broke the mark of 13-under that was shared by SooBin Kim (2011) and Anya Alvarez (2008).
“It was surreal to play like that,” said Boyd, who finished with a 7-under 65 and defeated Stanford’s Rose Zhang, the top-ranked college player, by three shots. “Coming down the stretch the last day, it didn’t dawn on me how good I was playing numbers-wise. It just felt like an average good round.
“I guess when you’re playing really well, you don’t stop and notice how far under you are. I knew I made a lot of birdies, but 65? I didn’t know that.”
Boyd said she learned 20 minutes after the event that she had set the UW record.
“It’s a big honor to have the record with so many of the best players coming out of this program — it’s a national championship team, right (in 2016),” Boyd said. “We had the No. 1 player here (Kim) and I beat her record. It’s crazy.”
It’s pretty heady stuff for a player who averaged 76.08 strokes a freshman. Her average this season is a team-best 71.77.
“I have focused a lot more on my short game, and I made a putter change that helped me be more confident with my putting,” said Boyd, who next competes in the Ping/Arizona State Invitational in Tempe beginning Friday. “I have also been doing a lot more work with my mental game … stopping being so obsessed with my score, playing for fun and taking it one shot at a time.”
UW coach Mary Lou Mulflur is not surprised with Boyd’s success.
“I told her the week before that she was going to win a tournament,” Mulflur said. “She is certainly that good, and it is certainly not a fluke what she did down there. She is a really solid player. The biggest difference between this year and last year is her belief in herself.
“The biggest difference in her physical game is that her short game has gotten so much better. She really worked hard on it, and it shows.”
Mulflur said Boyd’s belief in herself showed during the second round of her record-setting event. She started with a bogey, double bogey and bogey on her first three holes. She played the next 15 holes in 6-under to record a 70.
“When she finished, I said, ‘Last year that round would have been 76 or 78,’ and she smiled and said, ‘Yeah, it would have,'” Mulflur said. “She has learned to handle adversity.”
Boyd had an interesting path to UW. She was born in Clarksville, Tennessee, where her father is from. Boyd then spent time in China, where her mother is from, Japan and California before her family moved back Shanghai when she was in the seventh grade.
Boyd said she was often ineligible to play in junior events in China because she is a U.S. citizen. So Boyd would fly with her family to the U.S. to compete in big tournaments. That is how she caught the attention of UW coaches.
Boyd committed to Washington before her junior year of high school.
“My dream was to play D-I and I really wanted to play in the Pac-12 because that is the most competitive conference for golf,” she said. “Seattle is a great area and I really feel like I would have come here if I didn’t play golf. I love this city and the surrounding nature once you get out of the city.”
Boyd said it was tough last season being apart from her family, because “previously I had traveled all the time with my parents and I don’t think I played a single tournament without them.”
“To have that support that I had be far away was tough, and I wasn’t producing the scores the way that I had hoped,” she said. “But this year has been a lot better.”
On and off the course.
The on-course improvements go back to her short game and making the change in putters.
“I was putting so bad and I found (later) that my putter was bent — through traveling or something,” she said. “I got fit for a new putter before the summer, and then I had a good summer and started producing good scores. It’s been working for me.”
Boyd set a goal before the fall season of getting her first top-10 performance and a scoring average below 72.5. Done and done.
“So I wrote new goals for the spring, and a win was on there,” she said. “It’s nice to check that off.”
Boyd hasn’t written new goals, “but obviously, another win would be great.” That would be big for her and the team, with the biggest events ahead, including the Pac-12 championships in April and the NCAA tournament in May.
The Huskies are a young team with two freshmen — and no seniors — in the regular lineup, but Mulflur said it’s a talented group and that she hasn’t had a team that wanted to work this hard in a few years.
“I think we will be great, and a couple other players have been able to produce low scores,” Boyd said. “That gives us a lot of confidence to get to nationals, and who knows, it could be a great season.”