The Canadian chemistry within Ball State women’s golf

Sophomore Madelin Boyd putts Feb. 26 during a practice round at The Players Club at Woodland Trails. Zach Carter, DN.
Sophomore Madelin Boyd putts Feb. 26 during a practice round at The Players Club at Woodland Trails. Zach Carter, DN.

An average eight-and-a-half-hour drive and more than 470 miles separate Ontario, Canada, and Muncie, Indiana. It is the same distance that now separates three Ball State women’s golfers from the families they left behind to pursue their college golf dreams. 

Growing up in Ontario and moving to Muncie to play at the collegiate level is an experience three Ball State golfers share, and it's a bond that goes beyond the sport they traveled across the border to play. 

Junior Payton Bennett and sophomores Sarah Gallagher and Madelin Boyd knew each other long before they became teammates in Muncie. Growing up playing against one another is a bonding experience few college teammates share, but seeing fellow teammates travel home to see their families knowing you won’t get the chance is an entirely different type of shared experience. 

“We talk about it a lot,” Bennett said. “That’s probably the biggest challenge, seeing some of our teammates being able to go home for weekends, but we never can.” 

Bennett said she probably calls her mom between seven and 12 times a day. 

“FaceTiming my parents every day has made it easier,” Gallagher said. “I’ve definitely gotten more used to it over the years.”

Gallagher 2.jpg
Sophomore Sarah Gallagher waits to putt Sept. 18, 2023 during the Brittany Kelly Classic at The Players Club. Zach Carter, DN

Bennett said it’s better than a phone call, but FaceTime has its limits too. It could never feel like home.

While moving to the United States to play collegiate golf has been a challenging experience for Ball State’s trio, it isn’t the first time they’re golfing alone. For Canadian golfers, playing high school golf often means swinging solo and entering as many individual tournaments as possible in hopes of getting recognized.

In the U.S., playing high school golf is an essential pillar of the recruiting process. For Gallagher, growing up in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, this couldn’t be any further from the truth. While attending Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School, Gallagher was the only girl on her high school’s golf team. 

“You play high school golf twice or three times a year, and we would be playing against the same people that we played with in our individual tournaments outside of school,” Gallagher said. 

According to, Canadian student-athletes often face substantially more obstacles during their college recruitment process compared to American athletes. 

“I think you have to be really strategic about the tournaments you play and how to get attention from coaches,” Bennett said.

With the lack of regular high school competition, Canadian golfers like these three had to find other ways to impress college recruiters. 

“I played against Madelin and Payton growing up,” Gallagher said. “I played in provincial and local organizational tournaments with them, [and] we would play to get recognition for the university.” 

The three said they learned how to play against one another long before they learned to be teammates. 

“It was awesome to have someone to compete against and then to become teammates with once we got here,” Bennett said.

Bennett recalled the first time she played Boyd at Sparrow Lake in Ontario, Canada. The two competitors faced off in a three-player event with fellow collegiate golfer Taylor Kehoe, who now plays for the University of Alabama. Bennett remembers distinctly being beaten by Boyd so badly that she considered quitting golf, losing by twenty strokes to her future teammate.

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Junior Payton Bennett swings Feb. 26 during a practice round at The Players Club at Woodland Trails. Zach Carter, DN.

Consequently, learning how to play within a team was one of the most difficult parts of transitioning to the college game. 

While all three golfers have now played two years together for head coach Cameron Andry, none of them were actually recruited by Ball State’s current coach. That job was accomplished by a fellow Canadian, former head coach Katherine Mowat. 

“I actually met coach Mowat at a golf tournament when I was 13 or 14 years old,” Boyd said. “As soon as I turned the age where you could begin reaching out to coaches, she was the first person I reached out to.” 

Gallagher had a similar experience, meeting Mowat a few years later when she watched her at a provincial tournament during Gallagher’s junior year of high school. 

Unfortunately, for both Gallagher and Boyd, Mowat stepped down from her head coaching position just two months before the pair arrived at Ball State, leaving Bennett as the last remaining Canadian golfer to have played for Mowat. Mowat,  like Gallagher, attended high school in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, and recruited many Canadian players during her 18-year tenure at the helm of Ball State women’s golf. 

“Having that Canadian connection has been awesome,” Bennett said. “When I got to Ball State, there were two other Canadians who were already here, so I’ve always had some Canadian teammates.”

Playing for Mowat was a good experience for Bennett, but she admitted it was hard to change coaches after her freshman season. Bennett recalled that it almost felt like starting over, remembering that for her first practice under coach Andry, she was unsure if he would even allow her to wear headphones.

“Change is always good, but I did feel a little bit like a freshman again, trying to figure things out,” Bennett said.

Joining Bennett in her endeavor were two true freshman recruits in the form of Boyd and Gallagher, equal friends and rivals who lived within 45 minutes of one another. Now, two years later, each member of the Cardinal trio admits playing against each other for years until eventually becoming teammates at Ball State has formed a certain Canadian connection and a bond that extends beyond the green. 

Contact Nick Shelton with comments via email at or on X @NickS9954


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