Hodgkins Ready To Make Most Of Mulligan Season
BOULDER — Most college athletes only have one opportunity to play their senior season, but University of Colorado women's golfer Kirsty Hodgkins was given a second chance to do just that after the COVID-19 pandemic ended the collegiate season last March.
Many athletes were offered a second chance and like Hodgkins, took it. She was only two tournaments into the 2020 spring season when it was called, having just finished 19th at the Arizona Wildcat Invitational, March 9-10, in Tucson.
"I remember (associate head coach) Brent [Franklin] saying that could be our last tournament," she said. "I didn't play very well there, so to have a chance to redo my final season, I'm very fortunate."
In the months that followed, the Brisbane, Australia native, opted to stay put in the United States with the on-going pandemic. She played in several tournaments in Colorado and accepted an invitation to play at the U.S. Amateur.
But when it was time to return for the fall semester, things were far from normal. The Pac-12 Conference announced the postponement of all sports until January 1 on August 11, meaning there would not be a fall golf season. Practices could go on, but there were some new adaptations and restrictions, and at times, no practice at all.
"It was weird," Hodgkins said. "Sometimes we were all able to be there and sometimes just two or three of us. It wasn't normal. And my fall was very different because I got COVID, so I wasn't able to practice with the team for a month."
Without a season and tournaments to play, Hodgkins found practice a little tougher than usual.
"The way I practice is I look towards the next tournament to figure out what kind of shots I need for the next course," she said. "So I have been working on things, but it's not the same without a tournament to look forward to."
Now the spring season is just days away as the Buffs open their schedule February 8-9 at the Lamkin Invitational in San Diego.
One year ago, no one thought Hodgkins would be back here preparing for another go-around with the Buffs, but when life gives you a gift like this, you take it. Just ask CU Head Coach Anne Kelly.
"It is definitely a bonus to have Kirsty," Kelly said. "I'm happy to have that experience and I know what a tough competitor she is. She is a great player."
One of CU's most accomplished golfers, Hodgkins has the goal to get back to nationals this May, which shouldn't surprise anyone in the golf world. After all, she is one of eight Buffs to qualify for NCAA regionals three times.
"I'd like to go back, preferably as a team, but as another option as an individual," she said. "At nationals, you go up against the best of the best. If I can get a chance to go up against them and make it to the final day of stroke play, that's my final goal."
Given what she has seen from her team this fall and what she knows she is capable of, this could be a pretty good spring for the Buffaloes.
"I'm excited for the upcoming season and from what I saw this fall from the team, I think we have a really good team."