By Meredith Cook
Special to GoHolyCross.com
Holy Cross junior golf player Meghan Doherty (Westerly, R.I.) has a natural talent for the game of golf. Since her high school playing days, Doherty has established herself as a gifted golfer and a picturesque player for any head golf coach. As a four-year member of the Westerly H.S. golf team, Doherty earned a laundry list of accomplishments, including four team MVP awards, first team honors on both the New England Coaches' Association All-New England team and the Rhode Island Coaches' Association girls' All-State team, as well as a top-10 ranking for all New England women's high school golfers. Her senior year stat of 39.125 strokes per nine holes ranked eighth in all of Rhode Island, among both men and women. With such a decorated high school career, Doherty knew she was bound to play at the collegiate level and chose Holy Cross as her top destination. "I knew Holy Cross was going to be just the right balance between academics and athletic competition," said Doherty. "When I originally talked with [head golf] coach (Bob) Molt, he would always tell us how academics always come first. He also told us that we can always go out on our own and concentrate on our individual game, which is a really nice thing to have."
Coach Molt's coaching practices have worked wonders for Meghan, as she marked the team's low score in four out of seven events as a freshman and followed with a sophomore campaign where she notched the team's low score in all competitions, ranking first on the team in number of rounds played (15), total strokes (1249) and average strokes (83.3). Named a co-captain for 2009-2010 season, Doherty has already marked three top team performances over the fall campaign. When coach Molt, who has been with the Holy Cross golf program for over 30 years, was asked what he thinks is the key to her success, he quickly said "Meghan fits the portrait of an ideal golfer perfectly." "Along with experience of playing in junior tournaments, a player has to have the strong ability to manage their own game. Meghan has a fantastic knack at being able to do that. She never tries to hit shots she's not capable of and I think that's the key factor to a successful golf game."
Coach Molt was so impressed and confident in Doherty's capabilities that he gave her a unique opportunity, an opportunity that had not been offered to any other female golfer in Holy Cross program history. On Oct. 11, the men's golf team was scheduled to play in two separate invitationals and one spot remained open for the Nichols Invitational, held in Worcester, Mass. With an open spot, Molt was not at all hesitant to ask his top female golfer to play with the men. "The biggest factor was whether Meghan actually wanted to play," said Molt. "Knowing Meghan, I knew she would do it though, because she is willing to take on any challenge." Coach Molt also knew it wouldn't be a problem among the NCAA because former Stanford and now world-ranked player, Michelle Wie, had done it for the Cardinals two years ago.
Doherty did indeed step up to the challenge and competed with the Holy Cross men's team on Oct. 11. The result was a great success, not only for Doherty but for the golf program as well. In one round of golf, Doherty scored a 93, good enough for a tie with four other competitors for 53rd place individually. Her performance helped the men's team to a second place finish as she also finished better than four other male performers. When asked about the experience, Doherty said "it was just really nice feeling so welcomed by the team." "The men that I played with, both from Holy Cross and the other schools were just really great. They acted like real gentlemen. There was nothing negative about the experience and it was so nice to feel like a part of the team."
Doherty's accomplishments will most certainly remain a big step for the Holy Cross golf program, a program which coach Molt sees as continually growing in the quality of players and the level of competition. "Meghan is definitely one of the best, if not the best golfer the women's golf program has had in my 34 years," said Molt. With such a decorated career already, Doherty will, with no doubt, continue to make waves for the women's golf team in the upcoming spring season and in her senior year to follow. Who knows? Maybe Doherty and her proven talent as a golfer will allow her to remain and be seen as just one of the guys.