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Former Butler star DeCola fits right in on Indiana golf team

| Saturday, June 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Indiana Athletics
Butler High School graduate Marissa DeCola competed in the recent Big Ten women’s golf tournament as a freshman.
Indiana Athletics
Butler High School graduate Marissa DeCola

Marissa DeCola called the jump in competition from high school and junior golf to that at a Big Ten college “a totally different level” that “takes a lot of adjusting to.”

Really? DeCola could have fooled us. She made the jump look awful easy.

A Butler Area High School graduate, DeCola was a significant contributor to the Indiana University women's golf team this past year, averaging 76.87 strokes per round in helping the Hoosiers advance to the NCAA Central Regional.

“She was wonderful this year,” Indiana coach Clint Wallman said. “She came in right out of the gate ready to play, and she really kind of made a mark early in the season in qualifying ... and really has never looked back.

“She had a tremendous freshman year all around. She was great on the golf course — she was consistent, she learned, she got better as it went on — and she was academically strong as well. She was really the complete package coming in as a freshman.”

The first 16 rounds of DeCola's college career were sub-80, and so were nine of the final 12 of her freshman season. She placed second among Indiana golfers at both the Big Ten championships and the NCAA Central Regional.

DeCola, the 2011 WPIAL champion and a three-time top-10 finisher at the PIAA championships, ranked fourth on the Hoosiers in scoring average — by far the best of any of the team's freshmen.

“I'm really happy with the way my first year at Indiana went,” DeCola said. “It was a great time, and I loved being there.

“It's a totally different level than junior golf. It took maybe a couple of tournaments in the fall to get used to. It's a different mindset now that you're with a team instead of just yourself. It takes a lot of adjusting to make the jump from junior golf to college golf — especially in the Big Ten.”

DeCola can't suppress a giggle when she says she's “a little bit of a perfectionist, I guess, when it comes to golf.” Wallman also chuckles when asked to describe DeCola's game: “Her strength is she has no weaknesses — and her weakness is she has no strengths.”

“She's really consistent, first of all,” Wallman continued. “She's very balanced. She doesn't do one thing absolutely phenomenally, but she does a lot of things really well. Especially late in the season, she did a great job with taking a critical look at what she does well and what she needed to do better. And she implemented it.”

DeCola is back home for the summer and is planning on entering at least four tournaments in addition to the U.S. Amateur qualifier. Other than that, she wants to work on the finer parts of her game.

Long term, DeCola strives to be named all-Big Ten and, ultimately, be honored as an All-American before she graduates college. Lofty goals, yes — but Wallman has seen enough of DeCola in just one season that he says not to count her out.

“I cannot say enough good things about her,” Wallman said. “She's got everything she needs to compete successfully — not only on the collegiate level but beyond that onto the tour level.

“She's an outstanding young woman that we're very fortunate to have represent the women's golf team and university.”

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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