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Golf Week Magazine Features Carolina Women's Golf

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South Carolina's coaching duo of Puggy Blackmon and Kalen Harris.

A recent Golf Week article took a look at the Gamecocks' "odd couple" in Director of Golf Puggy Blackmon and Head Women's Golf Coach Kalen Harris and sung the praises of the program. Check out an excerpt below and read the full article here.

Kalen Harris doesn't look quite old enough to be in charge of a perennial top-30 team. The petite South Carolina coach blends in with her players on the course. Her hat is always pulled down low, sunglasses on, presence unassuming.

Harris, at 34, doesn't fit the mold in the SEC coaching circle. She's among the youngest coaches in a league that is one of the most competitive in the nation. Still, the age jokes that fly good-naturedly around the team are directed more at director of golf Puggy Blackmon, 62, who also travels with the team.

It's an unusual dynamic, but it works at South Carolina. Since Blackmon sought out Harris for the head coaching position when it opened up in the spring of 2008, the Gamecocks have made four trips to the NCAA Championship. They won the NCAA East Regional in 2010 and again last year - as the No. 8 seed. That team went on to finish fifth at the NCAA Championship.

Women's Golf hosts The Darius Rucker Intercollegiate tournament in Hilton Head starting March 8. Debuting last year, the Carolina tourney has quickly become one of the nation's most attractive tournaments for teams.
Darius Rucker Intercollegiate - trophy.JPGIt's not every weekend you go to a golf tournament and get a concert from a famous chart-topping singer. Participants in this year's Darius Rucker Intercollegiate tournament got that and more. A concert by Darius Rucker at a college golf tournament bearing his name could have been enough on its own to launch the event as one of the best in the nation. But the tournament, put on in collaboration by Rucker, the University of South Carolina and the Long Cove Club in Hilton Head, earned that status all on its own.

"We are receiving rave reviews from all participating coaches and teams following the inaugural Darius Rucker Intercollegiate. Over 50 schools have requested consideration for a 2013 invitation," said South Carolina's Director of Golf, Puggy Blackmon. "In 30 years I have never seen a [club] membership so enthusiastic and excited about an event. It is very unusual to have one of the most prestigious clubs in the country take such a role."

The three-day, 54-hole event held in early March at Long Cove Club hosted one of the strongest tournament fields in collegiate golf this season, as 12 of the 15 participating teams were ranked in the Golfweek Top 50. Blackmon and Long Cove head professional Bob Patton came up with the idea with hopes of creating one of the top women's tournaments in the country and Blackmon reached out to Rucker for his involvement. Long Cove's commitment helped take the event to another level. Tournament chairman Staunton Oppenheimer (affectionately known as "Oppie"), took care of seemingly small details that enhanced the teams' experiences, such as housing. As opposed to staying in hotels, Oppie secured housing in private homes in the area. He helped create a red carpet atmosphere for Rucker's concert, enlisted tournament sponsors and got the club membership involved. Club members volunteered with scoring, set-up, hospitality - virtually every aspect of the tournament.

"They just did an incredible job. They have one of the best golf courses in the state. It's a high-end private club that we get to compete at, and then you've got the staff -  the food and beverage, the pro shop staff, Patton and his support staff, the grounds crew that makes the grounds pristine, that helps make things a little bit different than every event that we play," said South Carolina head women's golf coach Kalen Harris. "Oppie and the membership really pulled together and made it special; they were excited to have us."

Visiting coaches also shared Harris's sentiments.

"The Darius Rucker Intercollegiate is the best regular season collegiate golf tournament in the country.  My team was blown away by The Long Cove Club, the membership's hospitality, and most of all Darius Rucker's sponsorship and involvement with this event.  This is truly a first-class event and we can't wait to return next year.  My team is still talking about this amazing tournament and the memories that they created are moments of a lifetime." - Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor

"Obviously you can't control the weather but everything that they could control was great. The golf course was in excellent shape. The whole aura of the tournament was amazing. Being able to stay as a team in one of the homes was good because I think it helped us bond a little bit. The students also really enjoyed the Darius Rucker concert. Being able to see what a fine person he is on top of being a great entertainer was a neat experience. You could see his personality and character come out in that concert and he's such a great role model for the athletes. Our host family was amazing and the members who volunteered during the tournament were phenomenal. They try to make it the best event of the year and they did a great job." --  Wake Forest head coach Dianne Dailey

Darius Rucker Intercollegiate - Concert.JPGRucker's involvement in the tournament was a huge attraction. He held a private concert for tournament players, coaches, sponsors, guests and Long Cove members the Thursday night before the Friday start of competition that quickly sold out.

"Darius loves the game of golf, he promotes golf, and he loves the Gamecocks. The neat thing during the concert was that he gave us a lot of shout outs and he's throwing his guitar picks and they all have Block C's on them with his signature on the back," said Harris. "A lot of the girls on our team said, 'I haven't had that much fun in a long time.'"

Rucker directs a lot of generosity towards supporting golf. His former band, Hootie and the Blowfish, already lends its name to a men's college tournament, the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate, and hosts the Hootie and the Blowfish Monday After The Masters Celebrity Pro-Am Golf Tournament. The Pro-Am has donated more than $4.5 million to the band's foundation, which supports education and the S.C. Junior Golf Foundation. Rucker also wanted to make a $5,000 donation to whichever school won the Darius Rucker event (No. 2-ranked Alabama took home first place in the rain-shortened tournament.)

Darius Rucker Intercollegiate - Gamecocks.JPG

"To have a first class event associated with South Carolina Women's Golf is great publicity for us and it's a great thing for the future of our program," said Harris. "To have really the best tournament in the country hosted by the University of South Carolina is something that's good for recruiting and good for our school."

As word spread about the great experience, demand for invitations to next year's event have grown, which also helps South Carolina with scheduling and being able to trade invitations with other prestigious, attractive tournaments.

Fortunately those excited teams are in luck. Rucker, Long Cove and South Carolina have agreed to host the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate at least through 2016.

*Photos courtesy of Long Cove Club. View more photos from the tournament and concert here.

More on South Carolina Women's Golf

"Inside the Roost" Monday: Katarina Petrovic, Kalen Harris

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1075 the game logo.jpgJoining Athletics Director Eric Hyman and host Derek Scott tonight on "Inside the Roost" will be Katarina Petrovic, assistant women's tennis coach, and Kalen Harris, head women's golf coach.

Women's Tennis is off to a great start this season with a 7-1 record including an upset victory over #17 Clemson last week. The 4-3 win was the Gamecocks' first victory over the Tigers since 2006. They won both their home matches this weekend vs. College of Charleston and Winthrop. They hit the road this weekend to start SEC play at Georgia on Friday and at Tennessee on Sunday.

Women's Golf is headed to the inaugural Darius Rucker Intercollegiate tournament in Hilton Head this weekend. The new tournament is a joint effort between singer/songwriter and avid Gamecock fan Darius Rucker, Long Cove Club in Hilton Head and South Carolina Athletics, who have all agreed to host the 54-hole event through 2016. Fans are welcome to attend the tournament. More Info

Tune in to "Inside the Roost" tonight and every Monday from 7:00-8:00 p.m. on 107.5 The Game. You can also listen online.

Katie Rose Higgins.jpegWhen the Gamecocks take the field at Williams-Brice on Saturday, there is at least one Carolina student who won't be quite as sure as the rest of the student body who she's cheering for.

Katie Rose Higgins, a sophomore on the South Carolina Women's Golf team, will be cheering for the opponent, but don't worry, Gamecocks, she'll have good reason. Her father, Kevin Higgins, is the head football coach at The Citadel.

"I'm excited because I've been thinking about it all year," said Katie Rose. "But I think I'll decide on Saturday when I'm out there how it will be."

The Higgins household is very sports-centric. Katie Rose's older brother, Tim, was also very involved in sports and played football at Florida. Their mother, Kay Higgins, was an athlete too and coached college basketball. Being the daughter of a football coach, Katie Rose has been immersed in the game her entire life, even wanting to do a little extra coaching herself at times.

"I got in trouble one time because he used to come home from games and I would just quiz him on everything about the game," said Katie Rose, laughing. "Finally he said, 'I just need some cool down time,' and my mom had to calm me down about it. It's just part of my life. I just want to know what's going on. I like watching practices, trying to figure out the scheme of things."

Having family members involved in college athletics has also helped Katie Rose get used to life as a student-athlete. Her father was able to help her through freshman year and assure her that she would adjust.

"It's been great because he always understands the competitive atmosphere and bouncing back after losses and how to handle wins. I've learned so much from him and he's always been there to be a good support and he just has so much knowledge. He just knows so much more than other parents [about athletics]; it's been good for me mentally."

The Gamecocks will take on Coach Higgins's Bulldogs at noon on Saturday. A limited number of tickets are still available via

2011 Hall of Fame Class Q&A: Siew Ai Lim, Women's Golf

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Seven new Gamecocks were inducted into the University of South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame Thursday at the annual banquet held by the Association of Lettermen in The Zone at Williams-Brice Stadium. Since the University of South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame was created in 1967, only 131 members have been selected to the elite group by the University of South Carolina Association of Lettermen. We'll catch up with each of the new inductees here on Spurs Up Blog. Be sure to give a loud round of applause when they are recognized on the football field between the 1st and 2nd quarters of the game vs. Navy.

Siew-Ai Lim.jpg

Siew Ai Lim (1992-96)
Originally from Malaysia... earned first-team All-America honors in 1995 and second-team honors in 1994... was the SEC Player of the Year in 1995 when she recorded a 74.35 stroke average... tied for fifth at the 1995 NCAA Championships, helping the team to a tie for ninth place in the team competition... earned second-team All-SEC honors in 1993, then was a first-team member for her final three campaigns... was a medalist at the 1995 NCAA East Regionals as well as at the Carolyne Cudone Intercollegiate... played on the Duramed FUTURES Tour from 1997-2000 and on the LPGA Tour from 1999-2008.

Brittany Lane: Where are you now?

SAL: I'm in Birmingham, Alabama, teaching golf at the Greystone Golf and Country Club you for the Hank Johnson Golf School.

BL: What are some of your favorite memories from your time at Carolina?

SAL: My best memories of Columbia was really just the people. I had a great team, I loved golfing. It was a great mix of ladies and we just had a great time, traveling, practicing together. That's what really made the entire experience special.

BL: How did you react to the news that you were being inducted into the Hall of Fame?

SAL:  It was unexpected! I was surprised but I was honored obviously to have been recognized by the university, I've been out of college for a while so it was unexpected. I came into town Wednesday and stayed with [former coach] Kim Abbott. She was the coach that recruited me when I came to Carolina, so I hung out with her and her family. I'm headed down to the Roost area, I'm going to meet up with Dr. [Ron] Kasper. We worked together some while I was in college, so I'm just catching up with people while I'm here. I was excited because this is a nice time for me to wander around campus and see what changes have been made. It's nice to come back and touch base.

BL: Are you excited about the football game?

SAL: I am, I'm staying for the weekend. I took the week off from work. My boss said, "you don't get inducted into the hall of fame every day!" so I left!


*Photos courtesy of Allen Sharpe.*

With the 2011-12 season right around the corner, we wanted to take a look back at the past year. Over the next few weeks I'll be counting down the Top 15 Gamecock moments from 2010-11 across several sports from the Spurs Up perspective. It was a good year for the Gamecocks, so I hope you enjoy reminiscing with me!

Top Moments of 2010-11 #10.jpg

#10 - Women's Golf Advances to NCAA Championship Tournament After Fantastic NCAA Regional Performance

While Women's Golf Head Coach Kalen Anderson's squad had some veteran experience this season from last year's NCAA East Regional Championship win in Katie Burnett and Amanda Strang, it was the performance of three freshmen in this year's Regional that propelled the Gamecocks on to the Championship round. Katie Rose Higgins, Suzie Lee, and Samantha Swinehart all put up solid scores to help the Gamecocks to a sixth-place finish in the West Regional. The surprise finish qualified them to advance to the Championship for the second consecutive year and to the Spurs Up #10 Top Moment of 2010-11. It was the third trip to the Championship round in Anderson's four seasons as head coach.

Women's Golf team in Seattle.jpegThe team in Seattle braving the cold and rain

In May 2011 the team headed to Seattle for the NCAA West Regional. They battled cold, windy and rainy conditions throughout the Regional but managed to tough it out and come up with clutch shots when they needed them most. All three freshmen in the lineup saw their score count all three days of the Regional.

"It bodes great for the future," said Anderson back in May. "They really stepped up, I'm so proud of our freshmen. They're a big reason we're going to the NCAA Championship. ... Katie Rose played her steadiest golf in the Regional Championship, which was really key to our success. Sam and Suzie had a top-15 finish in the Regional Championship, that's big time golf right at the most important time of the season. They're going to gain a lot of confidence from that."

I'm looking forward to another great year from Women's Golf next season as this young team continues to develop and build on their success! 


Stay caught on the Top Moments countdown. I'll post the next moment every weekday and Saturday until we get to #1!

#11: Women's Soccer Advances on PK's to SEC Tournament Championship

#12: Freshman Julie Sarratt Throws No-Hitter in Debut

#13: Cocky's 30th Birthday Party

Women's Basketball Upsets LSU, 63-61, at Colonial Life Arena

#15: Alshon Jeffery's season-long 70-yard touchdown vs. Tennessee

Katie Rose Higgins.jpegWomen's Golf begins play Wednesday in their second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championship, their third appearance in four years. While Head Coach Kalen Anderson's squad has some veteran experience from last year's NCAA East Regional Championship win in Katie Burnett and Amanda Strang, the performance of three freshmen in this year's Regional propelled the Gamecocks on to the Championship round. Katie Rose Higgins (left), Suzie Lee, and Samantha Swinehart all put up solid scores to help the Gamecocks to a sixth-place finish in the Regional, qualifying them to advance.

"It bodes great for the future," said Anderson. "They really stepped up, I'm so proud of our freshmen. They're a big reason we're going to the NCAA Championship. ... Katie Rose played her steadiest golf in the Regional Championship, which was really key to our success. Sam and Suzie had a top-15 finish in the Regional Championship, that's big time golf right at the most important time of the season. They're going to gain a lot of confidence from that."

For their part the three freshmen are enjoying the ride and their first experience with the NCAA Tournament. With classes complete for the semester they are able to focus solely on golf and having fun as a team.

"It's exciting; it's a great opportunity, something that we work for all year," said Higgins. "I was happy to contribute to the team each day. I was happy with my progress emotionally and playing a steadier round of golf and not making any big numbers. There were some tough conditions, it was raining every day. We had to just keep going at it."

After the cold and rainy weather they experienced at the Regional near Seattle, the team is looking forward to going to College Station, Texas, for the Championship.

"It'll be exciting to compete for a national championship," said Swinehart. "It's a different tournament that I haven't experienced yet so I'm looking forward to going to Texas and having a good week."

One strength of this young group is their ability to bounce back from a bad shot or tough start, a mental skill one doesn't always see with freshmen. All three freshmen had a tough hole or two during the Regional, but were able to keep their composure and finish well.

"That's what some of my progress as a freshman has been," explained Higgins. "At the beginning of the year my heart would be racing and I'd be so flustered and emotionally distraught, but now just through the constant repetitions and being in the situations over and over again you realize it's golf and crazy things happen and you just move on to the next shot. It's over and done you just keep going and don't let it affect your next shot when there's still plenty of holes to make up for it."

Anderson focuses a lot on the mental aspects of the game and preparation for each shot and each hole. One of the keys to their success the past couple years has been peaking at the right time and coming up big when it matters the most at tournament time.

"We always hammer them on the wedge game and the short game. We do a lot of on-course practicing with that. They seem to embrace that. It takes awhile for them to understand the importance of it and to get comfortable with it," said Anderson. "We seem to peak at the right times with our short games and mental games. They've developed in terms of their strengths. They get comfortable in their pre-shot routines, which is one of the things we really worked on going into SEC's and Regionals. We're making sure we're seeing our shots and seeing good images before we hit our shots. We're committed on where we're going to land the ball and if we don't see good shots, to back off and make sure we see the positive image before we hit it. They did a great job with that going into SEC's and Regionals. The mental side of it is just so important because they have just as much physical talent as every other team."

Before coming to South Carolina in 2008, Anderson was an All-American and later an assistant coach at Duke University. As a player she was part of the team's first national championship and would be a part of two more as a coach. She has brought that championship mentality to South Carolina.
"I came from a championship program at Duke and my goal is to build a national championship program here. The more times we can get ourselves into position to contend for championships [by making the tournament], the more likely we'll have the ability to do that. I want to keep moving my program in the right direction and keep getting ourselves to the national championship. We still have a little ways to go but the more steps we're moving forward the closer we're getting. We're getting better and better every year and that's all I can ask for. We'll keep recruiting hard and if our freshmen keep stepping up the way they do then we're moving in the right direction."

Follow live scoring from the NCAA Championship today here. You can also follow along with @GamecockWGolf on Twitter.

- Brittany

By Samantha Swinehart and Katie Rose Higgins
(Edited by Wes Todd, Asst. Media Relations Director)

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The South Carolina women's golf team was afforded the opportunity to play a round of golf with Darius Rucker, lead singer for "Hootie and the Blowfish" and one of the world's biggest and most visible Gamecock fans. Director of Golf Puggy Blackmon and head coach Kalen Anderson presented Rucker with a personalized South Carolina golf bag and named him an "honorary coach," which delighted the Charleston native. In this blog, freshmen Samantha Swinehart and Katie Rose Higgins talk about their experience last Friday at Bulls Bay Golf Club in Awendaw, S.C.)

When you first think of the name Darius Rucker, what do you think of? Well, you are probably thinking of an exceptionally talented musician, the lead singer for "Hootie and the Blowfish" and also as an outstanding new country artist. Well, now when I think of the name Darius Rucker, I think of a kind, outstanding, down to earth person who is a joy to be around. This is due to the opportunity the South Carolina women's golf team was given to play with Darius at Bulls Bay on our fall break (Oct. 15).

We (Sam and Katie Rose) anticipated the day so much, we posted a written countdown of days until playing with Darius on the front door of our dorm. The countdown started with five days and eventually went down until only a 1 was posted on our front door. This was when the excitement really began and the reality of playing golf with Darius Rucker finally set in.  Finally, Thursday arrived and we headed down to Bulls Bay as our excitement and anticipation continued to grow. Rickey Sullivan, the teaching instructor from Bulls Bay, set up the date and graciously hosted dinner for the team on Thursday night before we spent the night in the cottages at Bulls Bay.

On Friday morning, we had breakfast at the clubhouse and then proceeded down the long cart path to The Ranch where Darius awaited. He was so cordial and immediately introduced himself to each one of us. Then he began to joke around with us and talk with us as if he is just a normal guy. We were so impressed with how personable Darius was. He had flown in late the night before and had to fly out right after he played with us. Yet he acted like he was so happy to play with us and made it a very enjoyable and memorable round.

He reminisced on his times as a student at South Carolina, and talked about how great it is to be a Gamecock. Throughout the round he got to know each of the players. Sam (Swinehart) and Darius became friends quickly after finding they had the same laugh. Darius immediately nicknamed Amanda (Strang) "Controlled Fury" after feeling a wind gust after she swung the golf club. He switched threesomes after the turn, and posed for pictures with the team. After the round, we headed to the clubhouse, where Katie Burnett was honored with a cake and a Happy Birthday song from Darius. It truly was a treat and an experience we will cherish. Even with numerous No. 1 hits and sold-out shows, Darius stays down to earth and an avid supporter of the South Carolina Gamecocks.

260.JPGThe South Carolina women's golf team poses with Darius Rucker after completing a round of golf at Bulls Bay Golf Club in Awendaw, S.C., on Friday, Oct. 15. L-R: Katie Rose Higgins, Samantha Swinehart, Meredith Swanson, Rucker, Suzie Lee, Amanda Strang, Katie Burnett, Head Coach Kalen Anderson, Bulls Bay Director of Instruction Rickey Sullivan.
JFB_4353.jpgThe South Carolina women's golf team, which captured the NCAA East Regional Championship last weekend, was recognized prior to the start of Wednesday's Gamecock baseball game against Charleston Southern at Carolina Stadium.Sophomore Katie Burnett, the tournament medalist, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Burnett, a native of Brunswick, Ga., had little trouble finding the strike zone - she was a standout softball player at Brunswick High School and still holds the school record for lowest career earned run average.

Photo credit: Juan Blas


Golfweek Q & A with Kalen Anderson

| No Comments | No TrackBacks's Asher Wildman caught up with head women's golf coach Kalen Anderson after the Gamecocks claimed the East Regional Title.
South Carolina may be given the official "Cinderella" title for the postseason. The Gamecocks won the East Regional by two shots over Tennessee and four shots over Auburn and Duke. Head coach Kalen Anderson stopped by my corner to talk about the team's accomplishment and what she learned as an assistant coach at Duke.

For the complete article, click here
wgoldregionalwin.jpgSouth Carolina's women's golf team made headlines in the golf world this weekend as they captured the NCAA East Regional championship. It was the first time for the team to win a regional title, and sophomore Katie Burnett's individual winning performance gave the Gamecock women their third medalist at a regional. Here's what media around the region and the nation were saying about the team:
Golfweek: Lance Ringler and Asher Wildman break down the action from all three regionals in this podcast
Golfweek: Julie Williams recaps the final day of the East Regional

The Daily Reflector (Greenville, N.C.): Gamecocks win Regional; ECU takes 7th
Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.): Short game carries Burnett, Gamecocks to Regional title

The NCAA Championships run next Tuesday through Friday, May 18-21, in Wilmington, N.C.

Golfers Challenge for SEC Titles this Weekend

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South Carolina's men's and women's golf teams compete at the SEC Championships this weekend with the men traveling to St. Simons Island, Georgia and the women traveling to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The men will play at the Sea Island Golf Course and the women will play at the NorthRiver Yacht Club. For coverage, visit during the weekend. You can also follow @GamecockMGolf and @GamecockWGolf for Twitter updates.

Check out these golf "intro" videos:

Golf Coaches on Inside the Roost Tonight

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Tune into "Inside the Roost" tonight on 107.5 FM at 7 p.m. as host Derek Scott and Athletics Director Eric Hyman discuss issues related to Gamecock Athletics from Staybridges Suites on Huger Street in Columbia.

Tonight's show features the head coaches for South Carolina's men's and women's golf teams - Kalen Anderson and Bill McDonald. 

You can listen live on

If you've got a question you'd like to ask on the show, send an e-mail to, call locally at 404-6100 or 1-866-667-1075. You can also submit your question in the comments section of this post and we'll get it over.