Women’s Golf: Vanderbilt Commodores conclude season, finish 27th at the NCAA Championships

The women’s golf team was unable to advance to the matchplay of the NCAA Championships, but head coach Greg Allen is confident in the team’s future.


Vanderbilt Athletics

Celina Sattelkau smiles after making a putt in the SEC Championships on April 14, 2023 (Vanderbilt Athletics).

Henry Oelhafen, Staff Writer

The Vanderbilt Women’s Golf team competed in the NCAA Championships from May 19-21 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ. The team shot a collective +33 to finish in 27th place after three days of strokeplay. The team was unable to advance to the matchplay portion of the tournament. 

Celina Sattlekau, Virginie Ding, Tillie Claggett, Lynn Lim and Tess Davenport were the starters for the NCAA Championships. 

Sattlekau led the team, shooting a +5 total to finish in a tie for 60th. Sattlekau played exceptional golf on day one and day two, firing back-to-back rounds of even-par. An unfortunate 5-over 77 on day three meant she dropped some places on the leaderboard. 

Both Davenport and Lim finished tied for 89th place after shooting a +9 total over three days. 

Ding finished in a tie for 107th and Claggett finished in a tie for 133rd after three days. 

“We just didn’t make any putts,” head coach Greg Allen said. “We were dead last in par-5 scoring average and in golf, you just have to take advantage of the par-5’s.” 

These mistakes are rather uncharacteristic of this Vanderbilt roster. However, Grayhawk Golf Club is notoriously difficult, and only two of Vanderbilt’s starting five players had played in the NCAA Championships before this past week. Inexperience might have caught up with this young squad. 

While the week might have ended in disappointment, Allen believes there was plenty to learn from playing in the NCAA Championships. 

“The NCAA Championships is just another golf tournament,” Allen told the Hustler. “The cup is the same size as other tournaments. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment.”

While the team might not have performed to their usual standards in the desert, just qualifying for the NCAA Championships is an accomplishment itself. 

“We were in the top-20 [national ranking] for most of the year,” Allen told the Hustler. “We were very consistent and we were in [contention] almost every tournament.” 

The team was able to capture two victories at the FAU Paradise Invitational and the Ron Moore Collegiate. Similarly, the team was able to capture five top-5 finishes this season and make it to the matchplay in the SEC Championships

This success can be attributed to the veteran leadership and outstanding freshmen. 

“Our younger players really developed and we had really good leadership from our seniors,” Allen said.

In particular, Lim won SEC Freshman of the Year and Tillie Claggett also made the All-SEC Freshman team. Not only did these younger players play exceptionally well all season, they may provide great depth in next year’s roster. 

“They both hit the ball so good,” Allen said. “They both have so much length off the tee and the future is bright with those two ladies.”

With the return of Sattlekau for a fifth year and Ding as a senior, this team should have even more experience and talent to make a deeper run in the NCAA Championships in 2024.

Celina Sattlekau had another stand-out season for the Commodores, earning First Team All-SEC and is a contender All-American Honors (which come out next week). She finished in the top-10 seven times this season and had five top-5 finishes. 

“[Sattelkau] plays with a lot of heart and a lot of intensity,” Allen said. “Celina is one of the tougher kids on the golf course that I have ever coached. She just wants to go beat people and hates to lose.”

Vanderbilt will now turn towards the offseason as they prepare for the fall season to begin in late August. 

“Each player will try to play anywhere between 2-5 tournaments this summer,” Allen said. “These summer tournaments are where they can really improve their WAGR [world amateur golf ranking] to get an invitation into events like the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.” 

Vanderbilt will start their fall season at the Carmel Cup at Pebble Beach Golf Links in California on August 31.