Stevens: Beth Buchner Has Skills Beyond Swinging a Golf Club

April 23, 2013

New Mexico Lobos Women's Golf - Mountain West Championships - Rancho Mirage, Calif.

When/Where: Thursday, Friday, Saturday - Mission Hills Country Club

Who: New Mexico, UNLV, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, San Diego State, Wyoming

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

In planning their 54-hole chase for the 2013 Mountain West Golf Championship, maybe Jill Trujillo's Lobos need to take advantage of a few of Beth Buchner's skills besides the ones she shows with a golf club in her hand.

This senior is an exceptional New Mexico student-athlete. This All-American/Mountain West Scholar Athlete is a planner, an organizer, a go-getter, who actually graduated from UNM before her senior year even began.

"I like figuring out what makes people tick, what their goals are, and how they can achieve those goals," said Buchner, who will complete her M.B.A. in organizational behavior and human resources in May.

The Lobos' goals for the Mountain West title chase on the Mission Hills Country Club are clear enough. They want to shoot lights out and improve by three spots their fourth-place finish of 2011 and 2012.

"It hasn't been our best year, but we are going there thinking we can win," said Buchner. "We all have the passion to win, but it comes down to us all playing our best at the right time and we haven't been doing that this year.

"There is pressure and we haven't been handling it as well as we should. We have to show up for three days at the same time."

When Buchner shows up at the MW tourney, she'll have nothing on her mind but golf. This is a byproduct of her personality - her drive.

"I don't do any homework on the road," said Buchner, whose GPA hovers near 3.6. "When I know a tournament is coming up, I make a list and everything has to be done before I leave on that tournament."

See -- Buchner has time to plan and motivate and help her Lobos achieve their goals at the MW tourney. The Lobos have another advantage, too. Jodi Ewart Shadoff, probably UNM's greatest women's golfer ever, stopped by and gave the Lobos some insight on how to play Mission Hills. Ewart finished seventh on a LPGA major event held on that course this month. Buchner followed Ewart around during that event.

"That was really cool," Buchner said of her time with Ewart. "Then Jodi came here and walked us through the course. You still have to hit the shots, but I think we already have an advantage over the field with her knowledge and what she had to say about the course.

"Hitting the fairways is huge on this course. It's a little narrow and the trees are big. And it's going to be hot."

The hottest Lobo golfer heading into the MW Championships is junior Sammi Stevens, who has the No. 2 stroke average among Mountain West golfers. UNM has seven MW titles with the last one coming from the Ewart-led Lobos of 2010. UNM has never finished worse than fourth.

UNLV, ranked No. 43, is the favorite followed by San Diego State and Fresno State. However, UNM's 77.26 individual average is less than two shots off UNLV's 75.79 stroke average. The Lobos often struggle with their fifth-place score, so the key is exactly what Buchner said: showing up for three straight days with good golf.

"Even though we aren't playing together, we are always doing things to pump each other up," said Buchner, UNM's lone senior. "A lot of teams don't do that. We wave at each other and have fun with each other even though we can't talk to each other. It makes it better. You need to be one.

"I'm excited for the tournament, but I'm excited for the future. I'm ready for something new. All I've known is school and golf. I'm ready for a career and see where it takes me."

Buchner came to UNM from Loveland (Colo.) High., from a family of golfers. Her career has seen a few ups and downs and often those bumps were related to physical problems. She had her gall bladder removed in January of her sophomore year. She had an attack of the bulging discs (spine) in the spring of her junior year.

She played with the pain that season, but took off the summer of 2012 in an attempt to be healthy for her senior spring of 2013. The pain is not gone, but it is better.

"I'm doing OK with it," she said. "I'm used to it. It doesn't really affect my swing and I don't think about it that much.

"College golf is such an unbelievable experience. That was dream from a really young age. I have friends for life and I've met so many incredible people from being a Lobo.

"Golf will always be a part of my life, but college golf is like having a job, with the time you put into it. It's not like I can never come back and try to maybe play pro golf, but for when this year is over I'm just going to focus on a job and a career."

Of course, that focus on the business world will have to wait for the Mountain West tournament and maybe a Lobo postseason run in the NCAAs.

"We think we can win this tournament," said Buchner of the MW race.