DALLAS (SMU) - The SMU women's golf program will face another rigorous slate during the 2014-15 season as head coach Jeanne Sutherland announced the schedule Wednesday.
"Our schedule is built each year with a few goals in mind," Sutherland explained. "We want to play the best teams in the country so that we can align ourselves with them. We constantly look to improve the schedule every year and a couple events this year show the move we are making to play elite teams. I am confident that we will be prepared to face the tough schedule in front of us."
The Mustangs have a 10-tournament schedule that features five events in both the fall and spring. Additionally, the club will travel to Michigan for a unique event that is designed to prepare teams for the new NCAA Finals format next May.
"We wanted to play one match play event before the NCAA Championships," Sutherland said. "How we play and coach is different for match play, so an event like the East/West Match Play Challenge is great experience. It will be a really good event that can help prepare us mentally for postseason play."
In previous years, the NCAA Championships have used stroke play to decide individual and team winners. This season, finals determine champions based on a combination of stroke and match play. Both the women's and men's championship will be played at the Concession Golf Club in Sarasota, Florida, in consecutive weeks in the spring.
SMU has not been to the NCAA Championships since 1992, however, the Mustangs have advanced to the NCAA Regionals in back-to-back seasons during Sutherland's tenure.
"As a coach, my goal is to have the players prepared for the postseason," Sutherland stated. "I want them to know what to expect from themselves in any situation. We are playing different events all over the country against some of the best teams in the nation. At the end of the season the team should have a very clear idea what it takes to win at the highest level."
The journey to the postseason begins with the Minnesota Invitational (Sept. 15-16) and is followed with the match play event at Michigan (Sept. 20-22), the Schooner Fall Classic at Oklahoma (Oct. 4-6), the Betsy Rawls Invitational at Texas (Oct. 12-14) and the Alamo Invitational at San Antonio (Oct. 26-28).
"We approach the schedule one event at a time because every shot counts," Sutherland said. " So getting to open the season at Minikahda in Minneapolis is a huge honor. It is one of the nicest courses in the nation. It is a phenomenal opportunity and it is a great place for us to start."
A three-month hiatus awaits the team during the winter before play resumes at the UCF Invitational in Orlando, Florida, (Feb. 8-10). From there, the team will travel to the western half of the country for three consecutive tournaments. The UC Irvine Invitational in Irvine, California, (Feb. 23-24), the Clover Cup hosted by Notre Dame in Mesa, Arizona, (Mar. 13-15) and the Spring Break Classic in Kapalua, Hawaii (Mar.23-25) complete the Mustangs' West Coast swing.
For the third straight year the Dallas Athletic Club will host the DAC/SMU Invitational. The Mustangs' lone home tournament will see 15 teams descend on Dallas April 10-11.
"Hosting a tournament is a huge deal of pride for us," Sutherland said. "It is a chance for us to showcase the course where the team plays every day, the city of Dallas and of course SMU. It is a great event for the DAC members and parents of the student-athletes to see the top level of competition we play."
The DAC/SMU Invitational will also serve as the last warmup before the American Athletic Conference Championships, which will be held at the Hammock Beach Result in Palm Coast, Florida, on Apr. 19-21. At the inaugural AAC tournament a year ago Jenny Haglund claimed the individual title while the Mustangs brought home a third-place team finish.
Postseason play begins May 7-9 with the NCAA Regionals and the NCAA Championships open May 22-27.
SMU returns four of its five players who participated at the NCAA Central Regional.