NCGA Golf

Summer 2019

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40 SUMMER 2019 | NCGA.ORG A nne Walker's road to Stanford head coach began when she raised her hand at a junior clinic in Scotland. A burgeoning Cal program wanted to begin recruiting internationally, and Walker, 17, showed interest. She got the coach's number and, having been to the U.S. once as a kid, called at what she thought was a reasonable hour. It was 4 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. Head coach Nancy McDaniel didn't answer. Walker, unaware of her mistake, thought she'd try an hour earlier the next day. McDaniel leapt out of bed and grabbed the phone to avoid waking her family. She spoke to the potential recruit and soon after flew to watch her play. Rising to the occasion, Walker shot a career-best 69. "Do you always play like that?" McDaniel asked. Of course. McDaniel offered to fly her to the Bay Area for a campus visit. Not necessary, Walker replied. "I've been to Orlando," said Walker, who'd taken a family trip to Disney World. "I love America." Walker, now 39 years old and a mother of two young girls, gets a kick out of telling that story now. She became Cal-Berkeley's first international recruit, turning 18 three days after she arrived on campus. A three-time captain, Walker won the 2002 Pac-10 title and was a three-time All-Pac 10 selection. It didn't take long for Walker to decide that coaching was her future. She loved everything about McDaniel. "She was a mom, she was a coach, she was a wife, she was a competitor. She was an athlete in her own right," Walker says. "She kind of did everything and taught me that you don't compromise in any area." In 2002, McDaniel happened to be looking for an assistant coach when Walker played in her last NCAA Championship. She offered Walker the job and she started within a week of graduating. In 2008, Walker accepted the women's golf head-coaching job at UC Davis and arrived at Stanford four years later. Since the NCAA Championship switched to a match-play format in 2015, the Cardinal won it all that season and advanced to the semifinals four times. Winning a national title changes things in ways some might not expect, Walker says. "People look at you a little bit differently," she says, "which I felt very undeserving of. Just getting comfortable with the expec- tation that goes up around you – that now becomes the bar. That becomes the constant expectation." Common misconceptions people have about college coaching, Walker says, is that people think they spend a lot of time a) playing golf and b) teaching it. "Every elite player now comes with a team," she says. "The players you're bringing in freshman year are so much more well-versed in how to be great versus being clueless and having to learn from the ground up." Speaking of recruits, there are no boundaries. It's worldwide recruiting and 100-plus days on the road. "It's more big business," she says. And, in the case of Stanford since Walker arrived, the business of winning. THE COACH: Anne Walker Stanford coach Anne Walker's unexpected journey to America By Beth Ann Nichols TIM COWIE PHOTOGRAPHY

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