Redlands East Valley’s golf champion Tayler Muchmore watched Boise State and Nevada-Reno fall away from her grasp at a college scholarship.
It was, believe it or not, related to COVID-19, the virus pandemic that’s creating more than just illness around the globe.
“It’s really affecting the college recruiting process,” Muchmore was saying back on Friday the 13th in November, “for a lot of seniors.”
That she wound up with a solid connection at Point Loma University in San Diego is perfectly satisfying to the REV senior, who committed to the Crusaders two days earlier on Nov. 11.
The COVID pandemic, she said, “really messed up recruiting with everyone for every sport.”
Boise State, for example, seemed ready to jump on board Muchmore’s entry into the collegiate ranks. When COVID-19 struck down last spring’s college sports schedule, the NCAA also made a ruling.
“Athletes could have that year of eligibility back,” said Muchmore, “if they wanted.”
Three scholarship spots would’ve been open at Boise State, she said. Two out of three of those Boise State athletes returned under those NCAA guidelines. “A coach offered the other spot to a transfer,” she said.
Throw in University of Nevada-Reno. That coach, Kathleen Takaishi, who is an Aquinas High School product, was held back by NCAA guidelines.
“They (NCAA) kept pushing back the dead period,” said Muchmore, referring to periods of time coaches can travel to scout prospective players.
“I talked to her every two weeks,” said Muchmore.
Initially, it was July 1. Then it was Aug. 1, then Sept. 1 — “four or five different changes.
“Finally they made it Jan. 1.”
There was one opening on the Wolfpack roster, Muchmore said, adding that Takaishi wanted to view her game personally.
It shouldn’t be discounted.
“Video is too biased,” she said, quoting Takaishi. Golf coaches want to view temperament, on-course behavior, shot making skills and a player’s golf swing — all in person.
Those NCAA deadlines had every coach sidelined.
Muchmore, meanwhile, has continued to hone her game, playing in various tournaments.
She’s tried to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur, or the U.S. Junior Amateur, having played the Colorado National Women’s Open (tied for 36th), Utah Women’s Open (tied for 24th) and, taking a car ride back east with her mother, Leslie, to play the Teen World Championships at Pinehurst (N.C.).
“I’ve been everywhere to play,” she said, noting Florida, Virginia and North Carolina. “I’m trying to get in as many (events) as I can.”
That’s got to attract the attention of any college golf coach. Point Loma’s Lance Hancock was on board.
“The nicest person you’ll ever meet. The other girls (on the team) reached out to me. The campus is gorgeous.”
It might’ve been enough to make her forget about Boise State and Nevada-Reno.
“Boise State doesn’t have an ocean right next to it,” she said.
Come to think of it, she added, neither does Nevada-Reno.
Fresno State might have been in that mix, too.
Every tournament Muchmore played in was a step toward college. There have been 15 tournaments this year alone. Most are two-day, or three-day events.
“It’s been easier to travel because we’re distance learning for school,” she said. “School’s been really different.”
Ronnie Stockton, the son of longtime PGA professional Dave Stockton, has been Muchmore’s private instructor the past five years.
“He caddied for me (at the U.S. Women’s Amateur) qualifier,” she said, noting a non-qualifying round of 79.
“He’s been my best friend. The lessons are great.”
“It really is.”
She admits to a recent slump in her game. “My confidence was slipping,” she said. “It’s a bit of a struggle.”
Part of that might be tackling professionals and top amateurs in various events — finishing on the low end of tournaments.
Against those pros and top-playing amateurs, though, she’s learning lessons about how to play — course management, swing, difficult course layouts, putting — everything relating to golf.
At REV, she won the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Citrus Belt League championships — easily, one might add. It could have been four if not for the shutdown of fall sports, which is when girls prep season takes place, which begs the question on any possible future as a pro.
“It hasn’t been a goal for the past six years, but things change,” said Muchmore.
“I have four years. Let’s see where my game is in four years.”