How Menard's Madison Bates became an All-American in golf for Loyola-New Orleans | Marcase

John Marcase
Special to The Town Talk

Madison Bates had been enjoying a stellar golf career at Loyola University in New Orleans.

The 2017 Menard graduate earned Southern States Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year honors. She was a two-time All-Conference golfer. In the fall of 2019, she won her first tournament at the Martin Methodist RedHawk Invitational.

Still, Loyola golf coach Drew Goff expected more from Bates in her senior season.

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“Coach sat me down,” said Bates. “He knew I had the talent to win the national championship and told me above par rounds are no longer acceptable. It was about changing my mindset.”

Loyola senior Madison Bates, a product of Holy Savior Menard in Alexandria, recently was named first-team All-American by the NAIA and Women's Golf Coaches Associattion. Bates, who has graduated, has one year of eligibility left due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had that conversation because she got to a point where her game was pretty complete, but the scores hadn’t changed much,” said Goff. “It was more of a ‘it’s time to change your acceptable score standards’ conversation.

“She agreed and responded by embracing the challenge and gradually gained confidence which led to better scores. It’s not an easy thing for a player to change their ‘scoring comfort zone’ but Madison did it.”

Bates not only changed her mindset, but also her work habits.

Madison Bates

“I’ve always been a hard worker, still there is something knowing your golfing career is winding down,” she said. “I put in that extra 10 percent. I worked harder and stayed extra hours at the course. The talent was there, I just needed to work harder.”

The mindset change, extra work and dedication to her craft paid off tremendously, capped by the announcement Bates had been named one of seven first-team All-Americans by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association. She previously was named first-team NAIA All-American after capping arguably the greatest season in Loyola’s history.

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Bates won two tournaments and led the Wolf Pack in scoring in eight of their nine tournaments. She finished second at the conference tournament and 12th at the NAIA National Championship. Bates finished the season with six top five finishes and seven top 10s. He career-low 68 came during the first round of the SSAC Championship for the lowest score at the tournament in Loyola history. She is also a finalist for the Corbett Award presented annually by the Allstate Sugar Bowl to the most outstanding amateur male and female athletes in the state.

Former Menard and current Loyola of New Orleans golfer Madison Bates won her first collegiate tournament Oct. 8 at the Martin Methodist RedHawk Invitational.

“I couldn’t be happier for Madison,” said Goff. “She has worked as hard as any player I’ve ever coached. She’s very deserving of all the awards and accolades she’s received this year. The most impressive things to me as her coach are how motivated she stays all year long and how coachable she’s remained. Even during the off-season, she works on her game every day and is trying to find ways to get better.”

Despite being three hours from her home, and playing tournaments throughout the South, Bates often had members of “Team Madison,” as her aunt Laurie Johnson calls them, cheering her on in person, notably grandparents Susan and Don Bates, both retired educators.

“It means the absolute world,” said Madison. “My grandparents came to every tournament they could with it being my senior year. They got to watch two of my tournament wins and my personal best round of 68 at conference. That drives me more than anything that they enjoy watching me play.”

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Madison’s dad, Matt Bates, was her coach at Menard. Work keeps him from attending as many tournaments as his parents, but he was at the NAIA National Championship in Enid, Oklahoma. He continues to be Madison’s sounding board.

Menard golfer Madison Bates (center) dons a Loyola of New Orleans cap after signing with the Wolf Pack Wednesday.

“Him coming to nationals meant more than anything,” she said. “I was 3 off the lead after the first two days. In high school, he was my coach and it was awesome. I still carry around a lot of what he told me. After rounds at nationals, he told me to call him so we could go over every shot. He loves golf and is still my mentor.”

Bates still has one more year of eligibility at Loyola due to COVID-19 cutting short her junior season. She plans to play while working on a master’s degree in clinical mental health studies with plans to eventually earn a doctorate in sports psychology.

“I was so happy when they said we could take an extra year,” she said. “To continue playing while being able to start graduate school is amazing.”

Up next for Bates is the Louisiana State Women’s Amateur and a U.S. Women’s Amateur qualifier. Then, it’s back to work at achieving even more before her collegiate career ends.

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“Madison has meant so much to our program going back to her first year at Loyola,” said Goff. “She came in and hit the ground running and earned conference Freshman of the Year honors. Since then, she’s broken every program record there is en route to becoming an NAIA and WGCA First Team All-American this year.

“I fully expect her to keep the pedal down next year and continue to improve.”

John Marcase is a former assistant managing editor and sports editor of The Town Talk. He writes a weekly column.