College golf coach turns down Augusta National Women’s Amateur invitation

Beth Lillie realizes this might sound crazy. After all, who turns down a chance to compete at Augusta National?

“I don’t want people to think it was easy for me, or that I was making fun of Augusta,” Lillie said, “but I think I’m just at a different stage in my life right now. ”

Now an assistant golf coach at Cal Poly, Lillie focuses on improving someone else’s game every day. So when the invitation came to compete once again in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur this spring, Lillie finally decided to turn it down.

“I didn’t think that was in the spirit of this tournament, just going to play just to say I went,” Lillie said. “The more people who can experience ANWA like I did for the first time, and playing to win is the most important thing. Seems fair to me, even though it may seem crazy to people.

Eight months ago, Lillie was at the start of the NCAA championship for the University of Virginia. She finished in the top 10 for a second straight year, then sat next to her assistant coach on the flight home for help with her resume. While many of her peers were heading into the professional ranks, Lillie wanted to help others improve.

“Watching a player hit a new shot or hit a really good shot, I had no idea how enjoyable that could be,” Lillie said. “Feinting a shot or winning a tournament is great, but watching someone else you helped do it is even better.”

Beth Lillie (Photo courtesy of UVA Athletics)

Lillie, a native of Fullerton, Calif., volunteered with her Virginia coaches all summer after graduation. She used to joke about what kind of work they did in their office, but now she knows the paperwork behind the scenes.

When Courtney Roberts was named head coach at Cal Poly last summer, she already had her eye on Lillie as someone she wanted on board.

“She was always someone who impressed me,” said Roberts, a former Oklahoma State head coach and Washington associate head coach.

Not so long ago, a coach oversaw the men’s and women’s golf programs at Cal Poly. In 2015, the school hired a separate female head coach and now both programs have fully funded assistant coaching positions.

“It’s really good to be here at a time when we have the opportunity to have a lot of firsts,” Roberts said, like qualifying for the national championship for the first time.

The Mustangs never had an ANWA-qualified player either, but this year’s team players saw Lillie’s invitation, which she carried in her bag.

“I want them to believe they can do anything,” Lillie said. “That they can go wherever their hard work takes them.”

Beth Lillie, junior redshirt Jensen Jalufka and head coach Courtney Roberts at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Photo courtesy)

The Mustangs are now in the middle of a six-round qualifier for their first tournament of the spring season next month at the Tulane Classic in New Orleans. They are currently 92nd in the nation in the Golfweek/Sagarin college rankings.

Lillie, a captain of three years at Virginia, earned a master’s degree. She won twice and compiled a five-year career average of 73.51. In 2015, she qualified for the US Women’s Open at age 16.

While Lillie didn’t make the cut at ANWA last year, she was able to play a practice round at Augusta National this Friday and called it a joyful ride, even though the nerves were stronger than planned. She didn’t want to have to remember having hit a bad shot.

His favorite shot was a 3-wood that found the green in two on the par-5 15th. Her father walked by her side and “inquired” about it all.

“It felt like it was five minutes and five years at the same time,” she said.

Memories that will last a lifetime.

. Coach Golf College Decline Invitation Augusta National Womens Amateur

. College golf coach turns Augusta National Womens Amateur invitation

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