Leslie Greis ’80—currently on the Board of Directors for the PGA and LPGA -- was the first female player at Harvard. She played on the men’s team for 3 years in the late 1970’s and received the Rolex/College Golf Foundation Achievement Award in 1998. Leslie is still active at Harvard in several advisory roles including her service on the FOHG Board.
The Harvard Women’s Golf program started in 1993. Billy Cleary ‘56, athletic director from 1990-2001, turned to longtime friend of Harvard Warren Smith to start the program and coach the team. The program started slowly, sometimes struggling to put together four players just to field a team. Several team members played their first full 18 holes at a tournament for Harvard.
There has been dramatic improvement since and the Women’s Team continues to take strides forward. Some of the program's outstanding early competitors were Alexis Boyle '97, who served as captain for three seasons, Megan Murray ’97 who was the first Harvard woman to earn All Ivy, and Suzanne Ranere '98. During her four years, two-time captain Meredith Chiampa '04 helped elevate the women's program to competitiveness. The team won three Massachusetts Championships and two full-field 2-day tournaments, the Mt. Holyoke Invitational in 2002 and the 26th Annual Northeast Championship with the best single-day score in the tournament's history in the spring of 2004.
Recent results under the coaching of Kevin Rhoads are even more impressive. While improving the average team tournament score from 335 to 306 in the first six years with the program, the Crimson have become regular tournament winners. 2007-2008 was the best year for a program on the rise and included five victories in eight tournaments highlighted by the team’s first ever Ivy League Championship. The team saved its best for when it was needed most by posting an even-par 288 in the 2nd round of Ivy’s. 2008-2009 improved upon those results with the team posting seven victories in eight tournaments capped by a repeat win at the Ivy Championships. While the Ivy’s slipped away from the team in the 2009-2010 season, the players still had an impressive tournament record of six wins out of eight and the team tournament score average crept down by one stroke to 306—an impressive three strokes away from the winning average. In 2011-12, the ladies won five tournaments and recaptured the Ivy League Championship, and then the Crimson repeated with its conference crown in 2012-13, the fourth in six seasons.
All Ivy recognition has improved as well with Jeen-Joo Kang ’05, Kathryn Kuchefski, Jessica Hazlett ’08, Mia Kabasakalis '11, Christine Cho ’12, and Katie Sylvan ‘13 each earning the recognition once, Claire Sheldon ’10 earning All Ivy three times and Emily Balmert ’09 earning All Ivy all four years including an individual title in 2006 and a 2nd place finish in 2008. Christine Cho earned the inaugural “Ivy Rookie of the Year” award in 2009 and Katie Sylvan followed in her footsteps in 2010. Christine Cho '12 was awarded another inaugural award, “Ivy League Player of the Year,” in 2010. During the 2012 season, Tiffany Lim '15 earned the Ivy Rookie of the Year Award, giving the Crimson the third winner of that award in four years. Also in 2012, Bonnie Hu '14 won the individual Ivy League title, and joined Lim and Jane Lee '12 on the All-Ivy League team. In 2013, Christine Lin '16 was tabbed the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, while Courtney Hooton '16 and Bonnie Hu '14 also garnered all-conference honors, as the Crimson took home its second straight conference crown.
During another successful run in 2014, the Crimson finished 13th at the NCAA Regional, the highest in program history. Harvard extended its run of consecutive Ivy League titles to three, the longest in conference history, as the squad captured its fifth crown in seven seasons. Anne Cheng '17 earned Ivy Rookie of the Year honors and joined, Lim, Lin and Hu on the all-conference team.
Women’s golf is continuously improving throughout the country and the northeast teams have made notable improvement over recent years. No team more than Harvard who currently sits atop the Northeast.