Michigan State women’s golf hosted the Mary Fossum Invitational as its signature home event nearly every year from 1978-2019.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic forced a three-year hiatus, leaving a major void in the Spartans’ season.
The event returns this Sunday and Monday for its 37th edition as MSU welcomes 14 other teams to compete in the early season two-day tournament at Forest Akers West Golf Course.
“It’s so much fun. We are honoring my coach and really the woman who was a pioneer of women’s golf in this country,” MSU coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll said. “We are making sure that it’s really, really special.”
Mary Fossum created the women’s golf program at MSU in 1973 and was the coach for 25 years. She died in 2020 at age 96.
Prior to pausing after 2019, MSU had won two of the past three Fossum events and had an individual golfer finish first, or tied for first, in all three — the latest being Paz Marfa Sans in 2019.
Overall, MSU has won the event 13 times — 11 coming under the direction of Slobodnik-Stoll, who took over the program when Fossum retired in 1997.
MSU is coming off its first-ever NCAA Regional championship last spring and is expected to be among the top teams in the Big Ten again this season. The Spartans’ roster is full of faces who have yet to play in a home event.
“The players said to me before, ‘We’ve never had a home tournament,’ so it’ll be nice for them to experience something I’ve experienced quite a few times for the first time,” Slobodnik-Stoll said. “For this golf course, it’s a huge advantage. It always plays tough, you don’t see a lot of under-par scores. Our team has been working extremely hard the last two months.”
The tournament field will include Big Ten foes Maryland, Michigan Nebraska and Purdue, as well as Grand Valley State, where Slobodnik-Stoll’s daughter, Olivia, is a sophomore. Other teams include Kent State, North Carolina, Northern Illinois, Notre Dame, Oakland, Tennessee, Toledo and Virginia Tech.
Three of the teams in the field include head coaches — Aimee Neff (North Carolina), Caroline Powers-Ellis (Notre Dame) and Sarah Burnham (Oakland) — who played at MSU under Slobodnik-Stoll.
“It’s humbling, but it makes me feel so good because I know what we are doing here is right,” Slobodnik-Stoll said. “It’s three other Division I schools, two of them huge, and those schools decided that a Spartan was the best person to lead them. Everything I’ve worked for my whole life is to teach these kids how to do things right, and other people are noticing that and I think it bodes well for Michigan State.”
MSU finished in 11th place among 17 teams last weekend in their first event of the season at the Cougar Classic in Charleston, South Carolina. Junior Katie Lu was MSU’s top finisher, tying for 15th place at 5-under par 208.
Both the Sunday and Monday rounds will be 9 a.m. shotgun starts. Live scoring of the event can be followed on Golfstat.com
Contact Nathaniel Bott at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on X @Nathaniel_Bott
This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: MSU set to host Mary Fossum Invitational for first time since 2019