Bethune-Cookman University’s women’s golf team recently rolled to their eighth consecutive PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship (formerly the PGA Minority Collegiate Championship). The renowned HBCU institution won the Division I title on the Ryder Course at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Senior Yudika Rodriguez, who sustained a dominant level of play throughout, led the Wildcats—it was her fifth victory of 2019.
“Yudika is a really valuable player. That’s an understatement,” said Danny Forshey, director of intercollegiate golf at Bethune-Cookman. “It’s amazing to see the transition in these young men and women during college. Yudika’s always had the talent. No one can stop her from achieving her dreams. She started doing the extra stuff.
“We talked about the conditioning, working out and extra practice,” he added. “She’s earned everything. All I’ve tried to do is explain to her that if she’s willing to sacrifice and give a little extra, she’ll reap the rewards.”
While the players on the women’s golf team come from diverse backgrounds, they all carry the pride of playing for an HBCU school. Forshey said from the time the student-athletes arrive on campus they are steeped in the history of the university. Playing against other HBCU schools enables the players to learn about other histories and legacies.
“Although they’re from different parts of the world, the culture and the history is quickly understood,” said Forshey, a former PGA Tour professional who coached at Alcorn State University (an HBCU in Mississippi) before coming to Bethune-Cookman. “We’re from everywhere and getting everybody together and celebrating that is a cool thing.”
Forshey also praised sophomore Sumie Francois. As a kid, she won 80 junior golf tournaments, but plateaued in her late teens. This was her first year at Bethune-Cookman, and her talent is flourishing on the tight-knit team. She and Rodriguez both have LPGA aspirations.
Forshey and the athletic director of Bethune-Cookman are working on a way to return the university to the NCAA Division I women’s golf championship. The conference in which the Wildcats play saw a couple of schools drop women’s golf as a sport, which put them under the number to qualify for the NCAA golf championship.
“Our women have been dominating the MEAC [Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference] for several years,” said Forshey. “We’re looking for an avenue to get in the NCAA tournament because our women’s team definitely deserves it.”