Cal Poly and Hawaii were on their last hole. After chasing Hawaii for the past five holes, the Mustangs were in a good spot to secure the win. However, instead of focusing on winning, freshman Kaylyn Noh told herself that she had a job to do –– play “consistent and good golf.”
Her mindset paid off and earned her the title of Big West Golfer of the Year.
Getting to this position took a lot of hard work and dedication.
“I worked really hard during my senior year because I knew it would be tough getting a playing spot, so I worked super hard and I think I did pretty well transitioning considering how I played this year,” Noh said.
Not many freshmen win conference after being on the team for such a short amount of time. However, her 13 years of playing got her to where she is today, according to Noh.
When she was five years old, one of Noh’s close cousins showed up one day with a golf trophy in his hand, which piqued Noh’s interest. She wanted a trophy of her own, so her grandpa bought her a set of plastic clubs she could hit with. This was the start of her golf journey.
At Rocklin High School, Noh was on the varsity golf team all four years.
“[My teammates] were really cute and I enjoyed playing junior golf with them,” Noh said.
During her junior year of high school, Noh made it to the California State High School Girls Championship and tied for 28th place. She was also inducted into her school’s Athletic Hall of Fame and holds the school record for nine-hole and 18-hole scores.
Then, when it came time for collegiate golf, Noh knew she had to step up her game to get a playing spot.
“It is a completely different level of competitiveness and a huge step from not just playing for yourself, but playing for your team as well,” Noh said.
On the Cal Poly Women’s Golf team, the team atmosphere was very inviting to Noh, so much so that she said it felt like a second family to her. This is a sentiment echoed by her senior teammate Vanessa Wang.
“We have a team culture that we worked really hard at, at least since I’ve been here,” Wang said.
It was that same team culture that won the Big West Title, securing their spot in the regional tournament.
Head Coach Sofie Aagaard recalls that day and her interactions with Noh.
“We actually laughed about it because I did not coach her much during the conference championship,” Aagaard said. “There is a time as a coach when you’re realizing that they are good, they’re handling it, they can keep on going.”
Having started the golf season on Sept. 1, Aagaard noticed several improvements during Noh’s time on the team.
“She is able to use certain shots in certain situations, so I think she’s grown as a player on the course by understanding more about strategy,” Aagaard said. “She’s also one to hit good shots under pressure.”
In her first season with the team, Noh played 27 total rounds and her average score was a 73.2, which is the best mark on the Mustangs.
While Cal Poly placed 10th in the Stanford Regionals, Noh is confident in the team’s future.
“Our second and third rounds [at Regionals] really showed that we are up there and that we can compete with those top-30 schools in the nation,” Noh said. “If we perform the same way consistently, we have a really good chance of making Nationals next year. The program’s on the up and up.”