Annie Lee elevates the golf team to higher levels
As NCAA teams go, it’s clear that football and basketball get the most love. At Division I schools, these teams are large sources of revenue. They are easy to watch, and game times are quick. NCAA golf, on the other hand, isn’t any of those things.
Matches usually take place over three days and are far from the most exciting and spectator-friendly. That hardly means anything to the players who compete in those tournaments.
For her freshman season at the University at Albany, Annie Lee arrived with a sense of determination.
“I knew we weren’t the best team around and I wanted to go somewhere that I could help build,” said Lee. Though that determination wasn’t just for the on-field athletics. “I wanted to go to college where I could study my academics and excel in my sports, so Albany was perfect. We are Division I and as an accounting major, we have a great business school.”
Luckily for UAlbany, her impact on the team was immediate. In her first season, Lee racked up accolades most students would hope to achieve after four seasons.
Along with leading her team to an overall win and the first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship in school history, Lee took home the MAAC Individual Championship while earning MAAC Rookie of the Year honors.
On her way to helping the Danes secure the MAAC championship, Lee recorded her best performance of the season (226), shooting a 76 on day one and matched her season low with back-to-back 75’s in the final two rounds, finishing three strokes ahead of Siena’s Victoria Nguyen (75-78-76–229). The Danes’ victory sent them to Utah to play in the NCAA regionals. There they stumbled and placed 18.
After her freshman season, Lee had done what she set out to do. She helped a team described as “not the best,” and turned them into a dominant force — and she was only getting started.
Lee was born in Korea. She remained there until she was four, at which point she moved to Vancouver, British Columbia with her mother and two younger sisters.
“I was a shy kid in Korea, so moving to Canada only made it worse,” she said.
Before moving, her father took her to a driving range — a trip that would shape the rest of her life.
“I went to the range for the first time with my dad, and I loved it. Just the fact that you don’t have to be tall or muscular or whatever. If you practice and perfect your shots and you work hard, you can become a good golfer,” said Lee with a smile. “Plus you don’t have to talk to anybody or yell or anything.”
Once she had settled into life in Canada and chose to pursue golf, Lee began working with the man that would become her coach and family friend, Richard Hyun.
“I don’t hit it very far but my swing is pretty consistent,” said Lee who credits her consistency to Hyun.
Lee’s swing surely helped her become the target Colleen Cashman-McSween, who at the time was the assistant coach in charge of recruitment for the Michigan State Women’s Golf Team. While trying to recruit Lee, Coach Cashman-McSween became the head coach at UAlbany, and successfully recruited Lee to Albany.
“I knew that if I could get her to come to Albany she would be a program changer, and that’s what she’s been for the last four years,” said Cashman-McSween.
Since her defining freshman season, Lee has gone on to win four individual tournaments, a three time MAAC Golfer of the Month, MAAC Golfer of the Week, and a three-time WGCA All-American Scholar.
“She’s not only been a leader on the golf course but has also been a leader in the classroom,” said Cashman-McSween. “She’s been a great addition to the team and really helped us take it to the next level here.”
As much as she learned before her time here at UAlbany, Lee gives credit to Coach Cashman-McSween for helping her with her success during her four seasons in Albany.
“She was pretty new, she was getting to know UAlbany as much as I was and she understood my game and my personality a lot,” said Lee. “I’m pretty harsh on myself while playing, so on the course she tells me to relax and let my clubs do the work.”
With the end in sight to her final season in the purple and gold, Lee looks to the future regarding her golf career.
“With golf, I’m not so sure. I’ll stay as an amateur and maybe play a couple games but I’m gonna focus on my other career as an accountant,” said Lee.
“Besides golf, I have had the opportunity to interact with many professors, alumni, donors, teammates, and students on campus who have helped shape who I am today. I would personally like to thank Coach Cash, Coach Matt Rags, Professor Hughes, Kimberly Verhoff, Susan Maloney, and Lori Friel.”
Wherever her future takes her as a golfer, she’ll always be remembered for her time here at UAlbany.