Bigger signs with Hofstra
Alexandria’s Amanda Bigger didn’t necessarily have her sights set on playing Division I golf, but she always knew she wanted to play somewhere collegiately.
To get there, she spent hours on the course on her own, took lessons and worked on her game every opportunity she got. All that paid off for her by getting the chance to play at college’s highest level after Bigger signed with Hofstra University on Long Island, New York this past Tuesday.
“I wasn’t like, ‘D-I is where I want to be,’ ” Bigger said. “I just thought a school where I can play golf and balance golf and education…I’m excited. I’m really excited for my next chapter in golf and in life; to improve even more and to contribute to a DI team.”
Bigger signed her letter of intent in front of coaches and family members at the Jefferson High School athletic offices. She chose Hofstra after looking at a handful of other schools. She listed the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, Wagner, Bucknell and Division III St. Catherine University as options, but everything felt right at Hofstra after her official visit there.
Bigger has a recruiting profile through the NCSA Athletic Recruiting website. That helps coaches from all over the country discover players who they might not get a chance to see in person.
“That’s where a lot of coaches look,” Bigger said. “We just started contacting through e-mail and set up an official visit. I went out there and met the coach, met the team, and it just felt right. It felt like that’s where I was supposed to be. I loved the campus, loved the girls.”
Bigger has been playing varsity golf for the Cardinals since seventh grade. Her recruiting profile lists an 18-hole average score of 78.4, and she finished ninth individually at the Class AAA state tournament in 2013.
Bigger said coaches at Hofstra have told her they want her to come in as a freshman and try to help the team right away. The jump to the Division I level is a big one, but one she believes she is ready to make after a few adjustments.
“I’ve just got to be able to handle all the change of college and golf courses and be able to shoot low numbers so I can qualify for the team and head out there and make an impact,” she said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to help them out a little bit right away the first year.”
Bigger has seen her game reach new levels every year throughout her long Cardinals career. She went from finishing last as a seventh grader among the 88 state participants in 2009 to establishing herself as one of the state’s top players as a junior.
Bigger showed an ability to put a round that she wasn’t satisfied with behind her last season after shooting an 80 on day one at Bunker Hills. She came back on day two to shoot a 76, which moved her into the top-10 with a two-day score of 156.
“She’s really grown in maturity as far as playing the golf course and making decisions on the golf course,” Alexandria head coach Tim Zupfer said. “She’s really been dedicated to improving her short game and recognized that that’s an area that can kind of separate her. She really made a big leap forward last year, really had a superb golf season as a junior and has already started things out well this year.”
Zupfer called Tuesday’s signing an exciting moment for Bigger, as well as this entire program. Alexandria has produced some quality golfers that have gone on to have solid college careers. That recently includes Maggie and Molly Leland at Augustana College in Sioux Falls and Maxine Carlson at St. Olaf in Northfield.
Bigger is the first of those to sign with a Division I program under Zupfer’s guidance as a head coach.
“The thing she has going for her is she’s not a real big girl as far as tallness or stature, but she hits the ball a long ways,” Zupfer said of Bigger. “That’s probably the biggest leap that the players go through from high school to college is they’re playing courses at a much longer length. In high school, they can be playing meets at 4,800, 5,000 yards. They’re playing competitions over 6,000 yards at the college level, and I think her game translates to that just fine.”
Bigger feels she is ready to make that kind of jump physically. It’s the psychological part of the game where she wants to get better before heading off to college.
“I think it’s more the mental game for me so far and just all the changes that will happen,” she said. “I’ve played courses that are that long. I’m not worried about length at all. Short game will come and go as it comes and goes all the time. It’s totally depending on the day, the course, the conditions, and I think it’s just a lot of a mental game for me.”
She will have her senior year in Alexandria to fine tune some of those things. Bigger said her focus is to enjoy her final year with her teammates and try to win another conference and section title. That would mean another opportunity to play in a state tournament, where the Cardinals finished second as a team last year.
From there, it’s on to New York. It’s a long ways from home, but she wasn’t going to let distance stand in the way of the right opportunity for her to accomplish her goal of playing at the next level.
“It’s a little bittersweet,” Bigger said. “It will be fun to get out and get away. Change for four years won’t hurt anyone. It will be hard being away from Mom and Dad and family and friends, but I think I’ll be able to handle it.”