Header: A little purple on the green

Carlow Signs First Women’s Golfer

Natalie Abt, drivingNatalie Abt knew she was a good golfer when her father stopped letting her win. She doesn’t know exactly when that day was, but she has a pretty good idea.

“He started making me drive from the men’s tee,” says Abt. “And I still out-drove him.”

In the spring of 2016, Abt became the first signed golfer at Carlow. There will be more after her, but Abt will always be the first, a mantle she’s happy to wear. Although she de- scribes herself as quiet and a little reserved, she’s a proven leader and generous teacher—qualities in herself that she saw in Carlow.

“We needed people for the golf team,” she says, describing a recent season at Shaler Area High School in Glenshaw, Pa. “We grabbed a bunch of girls who were interested, and none of them had ever golfed before. One girl was shooting in the 60s at first, but we trained her, and by the end of the year she was into the 40s.”

Abt’s own transformation from novice to collegiate golf star began at the age of 12, when her father, an amateur golfer who walked the links just for fun, bought her clubs of her own. They spent many weekends at Saxon Golf Course, one of the few local courses to allow young players. It’s also free from bunkers (sand traps) and water hazards, making it a perfect training ground.

Carlow’s close proximity to home was a major factor in Abt’s college selection process. The small classes and solid reputation of Carlow’s forensic accounting program were just what she was seeking. But there was an intangible quality that she found, too—personal attention, which started before she even signed on.

“I met people when I visited,” says Abt. “And when I came back for Accepted Student Day, I got to see them again. They remembered who I was.”

Abt knows the importance of that personal connection. She volunteers with the Pittsburgh chapter of The First Tee, an international youth golf organization that teaches golf through the lens of core values like honesty, responsibility, and courtesy—values well represented at Carlow, too. Abt has traveled as far away as Minnesota to participate in First Tee’s Life Skills and Leadership Academy.

Now, as she finishes up her senior year of high school and gets ready for the fall season, Abt will play a few games with her dad. “He doesn’t get upset anymore when I win,” she says. “He says he’s proud to have a daughter who can beat him.”

by James Foreman