Ashley Sloup helps guide Campbell women to another win in 2022 Golfweek Fall Challenge

·4 min read

Caledonia Golf Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, might as well be a second home for Campbell women’s golf.

“It just sets up so well for them,” said assistant men’s and women’s coach Ashley Sloup. “It’s such a beautiful course, being close to the beach, the history of Caledonia, the beautiful flowers and incredible old trees, it’s hard not to be happy there.”

In nine trips to the Golfweek Fall Challenge, Campbell’s women have carted off a trophy seven times, including most recently on Sept. 13. After driving down Caledonia’s tree-canopied entrance as event winners, Sloup exercised some local knowledge and took the team to Toffino’s Bakery for a celebratory treat.

It is, indeed, hard not to be happy in the Camels’ van.

So much was familiar about Campbell’s team win at the Golfweek Fall Challenge, but Sloup at the helm was one of the biggest differences. This marked the women’s team’s 97th win under head coach John Crooks’ direction, but it was Sloup who had feet on the ground in Myrtle Beach.

Sloup, who played collegiately at Winthrop, signed on with Crooks in March 2021. For a season and a half, she primarily worked with the men. Sloup recruited this year’s men’s freshman class.

When former women’s assistant Lyndsey Hunnell took the head women’s coaching job at High Point and former men’s assistant Matt Moot came back in the fold after a short stint away at N.C. State, Sloup transitioned to primarily working with the women’s team, though she’ll still be involved in both programs at Campbell.

The transition couldn’t have been smoother, Sloup said, but she still recognizes that it takes some work.

“I have to earn their trust, I have to earn their respect, I have to start building those relationships,” she said. “With the Golfweek (Fall Challenge) being so early, we hit the ground running.”

The 165-mile trip from campus in Buies Creek, North Carolina, south to Myrtle Beach provided time for lots of getting-to-know-each-other. Campbell graduated five seniors from its women’s team last spring. Fifth-year senior Tomita Arejola is back in a leadership role with junior Sanna Lundmark the only other veteran player. Izabella Grimbrandt is playing as a red-shirt freshman after sitting out a year with a broken arm that required surgery.

The three newest players – Grimbrandt, Isabella Hahne and Taylah Ellems — all fired rounds under par on the opening day at Caledonia to give Campbell the early lead.

“We shoot 5 under as a team, we’re tied first, it’s incredible,” Sloup said.

That’s when Sloup turned it over to experience.

“I said Tomi, hit us with some wisdom,” Sloup said in reference to Arejola, whose motivating speech came after a Sunday-night birthday dinner for Lundmark. “… I take them home and Tomi goes, ‘Now we get some rest and we get ready for tomorrow.’ And we get to True Blue to warm up (Monday) and Tomi is like, ‘Today is a new day, yesterday is over, it means nothing. Today is moving day, we need to set ourselves apart. We need to get after it.’ And so they do it.”

Campbell counted three rounds of 69 and Arejola could have thrown in a fourth round of 69 but for a missed short putt.

Arejola had a similar message at the beginning of the third round, by which point the Camels had a seven-shot lead, and the team came out of the gate with seven birdies in their first four holes.

“That was important – right out of the gate, taking a strong start, that really set us up for success going into the back nine,” Sloup said.

For her part, Arejola finished with a 6-under 65 that was a new collegiate low for her. She made eight birdies and posted the second-lowest round in Campbell’s program history.  Her 8-under total, which left her as the individual runner-up, is the third-lowest 54-hole total in school record books.

Austin Peay State’s Erica Scutt did one better for 54 holes to take the individual medal. Scutt’s 54-hole total of 208 is a new program record.

Ultimately, Campbell finished at 18 under – matching the school record set by the 2018 squad at the same venue – and was 16 shots better than runner-up North Carolina-Wilmington. Campbell is a grateful group and one that not only savored the post-tournament treat but also the whole week.

“I’ve been on the men’s side, now I’m on the women’s side and there is no more humble and grateful and appreciative players and people than the Campbell golfers,” Sloup said. “Thank yous every meal, every ride, even when I helped them on a shot, ‘Thanks for the help, coach.’

“And I’m like, that’s my job, but you’re welcome.”


College golf practice facilities

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek