Haley Whitbeck is a sophomore standout on Sonoma State’s women’s golf team. After being a four-year varsity golfer at El Camino High School in Oceanside. Whitbeck decided to come to Sonoma State University. With the location in the heart of wine country and the influence of head coach, Val Verhunce, Sonoma State was the perfect fit for Whitbeck.
“I love the location, wine country is absolutely beautiful, plus I love the fact that we are only an hour away from San Francisco,” Whitbeck said. “I chose this school because our head coach, Val, and I get along really well and I do really well with his teaching and coaching styles.”
Whitbeck started hitting balls at the golf range with her dad when she was 7 years old and hasn’t looked back. Now, in her second year as a Seawolf, Whitbeck has many achievements under her belt. When she was 14 years old, she shot her first hole in one, when she was 17 she won a 4-hole playoff shooting 2 under par and this year she got second place in the teams first tournament.
“My mom and dad have been my biggest supporters from the start,” Whitbeck said. “They were never the type of parents who pushed me too hard. They always wanted me to be happy and only keep pursuing [golf] if that is what I really wanted.”
The support, on and off the course, from Whitbeck’s parents is evident in her strong, composed and determined character.
“Even though it is the most challenging part of [golf], the mental game is my favorite,” Whitbeck said. “It can make you hate the game at times, but you will always come running back to it because no matter what, you want to find a way to beat it.”
Although she has achieved a lot of recognition as an individual, Whitbeck is more focused on her team and their success.
“I would like to win a college tournament,” she said. “But the most important goal I made, and my team made, is we all want to go to nationals and win this year.”
Whitbeck is very excited with the talent they have on their team and noted that their consistency and close relationships as a team will make this year and this team very special. She also seemed very confident with their performance at their first two tournaments where they proved that they are a team to be noticed.
As for the rest of this season, Whitbeck is really looking forward to having a successful season with her team. Personally, she wants to keep her putting on track, which can be difficult some days. She also focuses a lot on letting her positive attitude help her golf game, and not let a bad shot or bad hole negatively affect her attitude.
Although her plans after leaving SSU are undecided, Whitbeck wants golf as part of her life for years to come.
“I have been considering becoming a teaching pro, but that is still a long ways away from now,” she said.
Other plans for her golfing future include golfing at Pebble Beach in Monterey, which has been a longtime dream of hers.
As a sophomore, Whitbeck still has three years to continue to improve and to continue to help the Seawolves have success on the golf course.
Whitbeck, and the rest of the Sonoma State women’s golf team, are playing in a local tournament on Oct. 20 and 21 at the Foxtail Golf Course in Rohnert Park.