Donna Young and Samantha Moyal on the green


Donna Young, right, was a charter member of the Scarlet Knights women’s golf team, which was founded in 1977. Samantha Moyal, left, is a rising star on the current team.

Nick Romanenko

If alumna Donna Young and student Samantha Moyal were to have a Freaky Friday moment—if a lightning bolt struck and they swapped existences—they would at least land on turf that feels familiar: both spend a lot of time on golf courses. Young RC’79 was a charter member of the inaugural Scarlet Knights women’s golf team, formed in 1977. Moyal, a sophomore from Alameda, California, is one of the standout players on the current team.

“Things have advanced pretty dramatically” since Young played for Rutgers, Moyal surmises. “It’s much more civilized now.” Still, Moyal values Young’s perspective. Present at the beginning of the women’s golf movement, times when, Young remembers, she had no alternative but to play on the boys’ team at Ewing High School and was amazed to learn that a women’s team actually existed at Rutgers. Moyal finds the limitations of the past foreign, a time when anticipation of tournaments was far from intense and the caliber of equipment, such as it was, barely mattered.

Young, who lives in Ewing, New Jersey, and still plays, was roundly praised for her moments of greatness—impetus for her later successes, including wins at the New Jersey state amateur championships in 2006 and 2007. But the encouragement from the team’s first coach, Jan Unger, had its limits. The team was “kind of primitive,” she says. “You were supposed to practice, but no one was out there demanding it. Basically, if you had a set of clubs, you were on the team.” The current squad has a full-time trainer who oversees workouts three times a week, and head coach Maura Ballard conducts practices six days a week.

And during Young’s collegiate career, there wasn’t a lot of team-bonding travel, certainly not by today’s standards. “We played primarily in the Northeast; Virginia was about as far south as we went. And we’d go out to Penn State.” Last semester alone, Moyal and her seven teammates flew to Florida, California, and South Carolina, accompanied by the swag that amounts to a veritable Christmas. Young remembers being issued a vinyl team jacket. “We had to give it back at the end of the year,” she says.

“If Donna were in our generation, it would be a different story,” says Moyal. But Young, although grateful for women’s golf’s many leaps forward, doesn’t have a problem being associated with her own era-specific story. “I was an American studies major,” she says. “I got a great paper out of my experiences playing golf in the ’70s.”