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Historic signing: Bellows first to join golf team

| Wednesday, Jul 26 2006 11:40 PM

Last Updated: Wednesday, Jul 26 2006 11:44 PM

As long as Cal State Bakersfield has an athletic program, Meggan Bellows will be the answer to a trivia question.

Bellows, a recent graduate of Centennial High School and The Californian's All-Area girls Golfer of the Year last fall, is the first women's golfer CSUB signed to a letter-of-intent.

CSUB, a longtime NCAA Division II power, announced in the spring that it is adding women's golf as an intercollegiate sport, one of the steps the university is taking as it begins the reclassification process to Division I.

"It's kind of cool," Bellows said. "I can always say I was the first one to sign with a (full) ride (athletic scholarship). I can't wait for it to start."

Dave Barber, who has been the CSUB men's golf coach since the fall of 2001, is responsible for the women's program as CSUB's director of golf. But Bruce Burroughs, a longtime local teaching professional, will handle the day-to-day operation of the women's team.

The first official practice won't be held until Sept. 12. In the meantime, Burroughs and Barber are trying to finalize details such as a schedule and recruiting.

The first scheduled contest is a two-day tournament hosted by Cal State Monterey on Oct. 16.

"We have only four gals signed up and we'd like to get at least six," Barber said. "It has been very difficult. We were told last spring to start this program, but the gals in high school and junior college play in the fall, so the better players were contacted by other schools and committed to play, so we've had a hard time (attracting players). The school realized this would be a challenge."

Barber said he is confident the recruiting will be easier for the second year of the program. CSUB, per an NCAA requirement for schools in the reclassification process, must have a Division I schedule for 2007-08.

"I've already talked to three other girls about coming here in 2007-08," Burroughs said.

Bellows, 18, enters CSUB as a player capable of shooting in the low- to mid-70s. She was Centennial's No. 1 player last fall.

Bellows said she has family in Tennessee and considered playing at the University of Tennessee.

"But that was just a thought. I never put in an application," she said.

Her goal -- one that Burroughs and Barber would gladly see come to fruition -- would be to shoot consistently in the low 70s.

"I hope to get really good playing college golf so I can extend my career a little bit," Bellows said. "Maybe the pros. Hopefully this will help me in the future."

Other players set to join CSUB's first women's golf team are two junior college transfers from Moorpark College, Tamara Wood and Jennifer Hass. Wood averaged in the low 80s for the Raiders, who placed second in the state junior college team tournament last season, Barber said. Hass did not play golf at Moorpark. Wood has two years of eligibility remaining and Hass has three, Barber said.

The fourth player is another local product, Leslie Benson, a freshman from West High.

Barber said he hopes to lure additional players from CSUB's student body once classes start in September.

"We're still beating the bushes," Barber said. "I'm e-mailing schools. And once school starts, if anyone has some golf ability we're interested. Anything around 100 and we're happy to have you."

Said Burroughs: "I love teaching. That's what I'll be doing here: teaching a whole bunch. ... We're bringing in some girls with high scores, and hopefully we'll drop some shots."