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Dani Bailey has made strong impressions on teammates and coaches alike

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Dani Bailey, the newest member of the women's golf team, tees off in January 2021. The New Zealand transport got some swings in before practice was suspended. // Courtesy of Jeff Evans

By Nathan Schumock

Dani Bailey, once the only girl on her high school golf team, is ready to compete on the Western Washington University women’s golf team after completing the 21-hour journey from her home in New Zealand.  

Bailey was introduced to golf by her dad and brother who frequented the course on Saturday mornings.

“One day he was like ‘You can come along,’” Bailey said. “I fell in love with it.” 

Bailey grew up in Queenstown, New Zealand, and went to Wakatipu High School, the only high school in town. While competing for her school, she was also a part of an older women’s team in New Zealand.

She first heard of Western because of a family friend from British Columbia who mentioned the Bellingham area. That, combined with her desire to have the American college experience, led her to Western, Bailey said.

“I also like Seattle because I’ve seen the movies with Seattle in it, so it just worked out and it kind of felt like fate,” Bailey said. 

Luke Bennett, the head golf coach at Western, received an email Bailey sent expressing her interest in playing for Western. After reviewing her resume and statistics, Bennett said he found what he was looking for. 

“Our first conversation was almost an hour long, which is always a good thing because the conversation keeps rolling,” Bennett said. “It just kind of blossomed from there.” 

As far as hitting golf balls goes, Bennett said he’s thrilled Bailey wanted to bring her talents here. 

“She’s young in terms of her age, but she hits the golf ball like a mature athlete, which is awesome,” Bennett said. 

To make the transition from New Zealand to Bellingham easy, Bailey said Bennett has provided support by checking in and making sure the switch into a new environment goes smoothly. 

Megan Billeter, a senior on the golf team, said Bailey has fit into their squad well and has even taught the team some New Zealand slang, such as calling people “cuzzy” because everyone in New Zealand thinks they’re family. 

Billeter said Bailey had adjusted well to the team and they’ve gotten to know each other better in between rounds of golf. 

Bailey has especially impressed teammates on the course, Billeter said. 

“She’s a powerful hitter, and when she heats up with putting she makes everything,” Billeter said. 

Bailey is planning to major in communication studies, but said she’s unsure what she would like to do after college. 

“I think I’d love to play on the European tour,” Bailey said.

With a potential season up in the air due to COVID-19, Bailey said she’s still grateful to get in some practice with her teammates.

“We really bounce off each other,” Bailey said. “I’m really excited, I think we’re going to do great.”


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