Mateer drives to the top

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Mateer drives to the top

Story by Chad Mullens, Writer

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Judging by the awards and accolades she has received as a Baker Wildcat, it’s hard to believe junior Lindsey Mateer started golfing just six years ago as an extra activity during softball’s offseason. Stuck between golf and tennis, there was only one deciding factor that led her to the course.

“I heard that the tennis team would run around the building for conditioning, and I didn’t want to do that, so I went out for golf,” Mateer said.

After quickly picking up the game, Mateer started receiving college offers well before her senior year.

“I got a call from (head coach) Karen Exon here, and I felt like I could do something with the game,” Mateer said. “I kind of fell out of softball. I didn’t really enjoy it anymore, and golf started to be my main focus.”

Exon said that Mateer has been the best player on the women’s team since she set foot on campus, but she has seen her growth as a golfer over the past three years.

Adding to her long list of awards, Mateer won the individual HAAC title on April 27-28 at Indian Foothills Golf Course in Marshall, Missouri. Mateer trailed by two strokes to Culver-Stockton’s Lucy Clark after day one but gained the lead back on day two with Clark shooting an 82. Mateer double-bogeyed the 17th hole and walking to the 18th tee box, she was told that she had to par the hole to win the tournament.

Mateer’s tee shot landed just short of a fairway bunker and her approach shot was her best shot of the tournament as she stuck the shot within 4 feet of the pin. Mateer’s birdie on 18 sealed her individual title.

It may be hard to monitor improvement in certain aspects of her game when there has been no one to catch up to, but Mateer is constantly setting personal goals and focusing on not getting caught up in the honors she receives.

“I just look at my scores,” Mateer said. “The awards and stuff are very nice, but overall I just want to be on top of my game and get down near par, more than anything.”

Exon has noticed improvement over the years.

“As a freshman I think she lacked a great deal of self-confidence,” Exon said. “I think she grew some as a sophomore, but she was still inconsistent, but now, with how hard she has worked over the summer and fall, she has definitely gotten really good.”

And as a retired professor of 21 years who has worked with hundreds of college students, Exon sees positive development with Mateer.

“I always look for evidence of rise in abilities and rise in character and toward professionalism,” Exon said. “As a person she has continued to grow and mature and become more confident, but not to the extent that she’s unpleasant to be around or full of herself, and that is an important distinction.”

Mateer believes that Exon has played a role in her growing self-confidence.

“I think she believes in me, and that’s a big thing I’ve had problems with, not believing in myself as much, so the biggest thing would be the mental aspect of the game,” Mateer said.

Even now, Mateer acknowledges that she still battles her own thoughts on the course.

“My head is an obstacle,” Mateer said. “I feel like I’m on top of this little hump that I can’t get over to be able to play well all the time.”

As an upperclassman, Mateer has embraced a leadership role on the team, something Exon questioned would ever be able to happen. For Mateer, being a leader was difficult, noting her lack of desire to be overbearing. But Exon is impressed with Mateer’s development.

“There were times where I wondered whether she would develop the sort of extroverted, overt leadership types of traits,” Exon said. “Emma Tinsley is our senior captain and she has done a fine job, but I’m extremely pleased with Lindsey’s progress as a leader.”

The next step for Baker and Mateer is the NAIA Women’s Golf National Championship on May 9-16 at the Savannah Quarters Country Club in Pooler, Georgia. Mateer hopes to carry the momentum from her individual conference title into the national tournament by making the cut and playing in the final round.

“Going into nationals I hope to play consistent golf like I have been this season,” Mateer said. “I know it is going to be a lot of fun and a great experience.”