SIMPSONVILLE, Ky. (seminoles.com) – Chocolate chip cookies.
The age-old, delicious treat just might be one of the keys to the success for the nationally ranked Florida State women’s golf team that begins play in the NCAA Louisville Regional Championship on Monday. As the No. 2 seed in one of the toughest of the four NCAA regional championships, the Seminoles need to finish as one of the top six teams in the regional championship to advance to the NCAA Championship Finals for the fifth consecutive tournament under 11th-year head coach Amy Bond.
Why chocolate chip cookies, you ask?
The cookies were part of the lunch provided to the golfers during the Seminoles’ spring season opening Moon Invitational, which was the first collegiate event for Seminole freshman Charlotte Heath.
Heath finished in fifth place in the individual standings of the Moon Invitational. Her finish marked the first of three top five placings for the freshman. She has finished at or below par in three of her first career events and became just the fifth freshman in school history to earn All-ACC honors. Additionally, her 71.94 scoring average entering the Louisville Regional is the fifth best in school history.
“My best memory of my first season has been the Moon Invitational,” said Heath. “I had never played a college event before, so it was super exciting for me and the team to see how we would place. Also, they had cookies in their lunch bags and that made my week.”
As one of the top recruits in school history, much was expected of Heath when she arrived in Tallahassee in the fall of 2020 – in the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Though she chose not to play competitive golf in her first fall season as a Seminole when the ACC placed each of its 12 programs on a pause, Heath was determined to be ready for the spring season.
The combination of not playing golf and being apart from her family for the first time was difficult, but she has persevered largely because of the tight-knit family within the Seminoles’ program.
“I found the change coming over to America difficult,” said Heath. “During the fall semester I missed home a lot. Once we started to play events I settled right in and my teammates and coaches felt like a family away from home.”
Heath, whose love of the games of golf comes from her dad, has settled quite nicely in Tallahassee.
“Charlotte has come in as a freshman and played really, really well,” said Bond. “She’s had some great finishes and played some good golf. She has really adjusted well. I am thrilled with the way Charlotte has played this spring. I look forward to having her for another couple of years.”
Heath has become comfortable at Florida State in large part because of the family atmosphere surrounding the program along with confidence and trust she has quickly gained from the coach and her teammates.
“I’ve grown with the help of the coaches as they’ve really helped me improve my wedge game and short game,” said Heath. “The coaches have helped me accept that I have to allow myself to play to my strengths. That’s been a big help for my game.”
Heath has also gained the trust of her teammates with her play on the course and her effervescent personality that resonates throughout the program.
“Charlotte is not just a great teammate, but an amazing friend,” said fellow freshman Taylor Roberts. “My freshman year wouldn’t have been the same without her. Her dedication and persistence rubs off not just on me but our entire team. I can’t wait to spend the next three years with her.”
When the spring season began, Heath immediately demonstrated her abilities to the Seminole coach staff and to her teammates in her first career event. Not only did she earn her first career top five finish at the Moon Invitational, buts he was the Seminoles’ leading golfer in the event. Heath has finished among Florida State’s top two golfers in five of its six events and has helped lead the team to two team championships (at the Florida State Match Up and the Pinetree Collegiate) and five top-five team finishes. Heath finished at even par in her first career ACC Championship in leading the Seminoles to their fourth consecutive runner-up finish in the event.
Heath also tied the school record as she carded a 7-under par score of 65 in the first round of the Valspar Augusta Invitational.
As well as she has played individually, Heath insists that her success as a freshman has come largely because of her teammates.
“Playing as a member of this team and having other people rely on you has really helped me,” said Heath. “Every shot is more than for you as an individual. That made me mature because even when you are not playing so well, you still have to grind it out for yourself and the team.”
As Heath continues to grow and mature as a student-athlete, she sees her expectations growing as her goals become clear.
“Coming into college I didn’t really know what to expect, so I didn’t have any goals,” said Heath. “The better I play, the more expectations I have for myself. For me, going out and having fun works best, so that is ultimately what I want to do going forward.”
Heath’s ultimate goal is to play on the LPGA Tour.
Until she earns her tour card, she is focused on improving each day she steps on the course.
“I think working on my short game consistency is key,” said Heath. “Also getting each part of my game a little better, one percent at a time, is important for now as I am only a freshman. it’s not the big things you need to do well it’s the little things that build into your daily processes.”
Consistency has become one of Heath’s most reliable traits as she has carded 16 of her 17 scores at 75 or below with three scores carded in the 60’s. She has finished in the top 11 of the individual standings in five of six events and 10th highest ranked golfer in the ACC according to Golfstat.
With the regular season and the ACC Championship lessons behind Heath and her teammates, she has now turned her focus to the University of Louisville Golf Course and her Monday morning tee time.
“I’m looking forward to competing again,” said Heath. “It’s been a few weeks since ACC’s which feels like forever not competing, so I’m excited to play. I’m going in confident; I’ve put in the practice, and we’ll see how it goes from there.”
And if they are serving chocolate chip cookies with lunch, it’s all the better.