Freshman golfer goes from Honolulu to NYU

Alyssa Poentis, fr., was recently recognized as Performer of the Week in the Liberty League.

With the Liberty League Championships coming up this weekend, the NYU women’s golf team is looking to get another standout performance from freshman Alyssa Poentis, who has emerged as one of the squad’s best golfers. But with her first season at NYU nearly complete, Poentis, a pre-med neural science major, has learned more about life than about athletics.

“My first season has taught me to be a better person,” Poentis said. “Golf teaches so many valuable characteristics needed in golf and in life: humility, responsibility, time management — the list goes on, and I think this year has further helped me reinforce these values upon myself.”

Transitioning to NYU was not easy for Poentis. After growing up in Honolulu, golfing and living in New York City has been a completely novel experience.

“I don’t think I ever played in the cold, so it was a very new experience for me,” Poentis said. “The transition was huge. Everything is so different: the weather, people, overall atmosphere. I like New York City but it took me a while to get used to things. I don’t think it really affected my game, but it did make me a better player.”

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Poentis’ performances have been an integral part in NYU’s success this season — she set a school record for the lowest 36-hole tournament score at the Vassar College Invitational two weekends ago, shooting a 150 and finishing in second place out of 67 competitors. Participating in eight out of the Violets’ nine tournaments thus far, Poentis has finished in the top 11 seven times, averaging a team-best score of 77.6 per round.

“I think my best performance was at St. Lawrence, and it has nothing to do with how I placed,” Poentis said. “Even though it wasn’t my best tournament score, I felt like I played the best there.”

Poentis tied for first place at the St. Lawrence University Invitational last semester, shooting slightly above her score at Vassar with a 153. At the time, it was the fifth-lowest 36-hole tournament score in NYU history, tied with former Violet Theresa Apoznanski. 

Poentis followed up with two more 153 stroke performances at the NYU Fall Invitational, and more recently at the UAA Women’s Golf Championship in March, finishing in fourth and third place, respectively.

The Liberty League acknowledged her accomplishments with three performer of the week accolades for her performances at St. Lawrence, Vassar and the UAA Championship.

Poentis was sidelined from furthering her success at the Jack Leeman Invitational last weekend due to a back injury.

“I’ve had back pain for years but the pain when I play comes and goes,” Poentis said. “I had to withdraw because the pain was too much for me to handle.”

But with the Liberty League Championships looming, Poentis is spending her time trying to get back to full strength.

“For this week, I’m trying to rest and recover to be at my best this coming weekend,” Poentis said. “The coaches are really depending on all of us to perform at our best.”

The championships will take place in Clifton Springs, New York.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, April 22 print edition. Email Jonathan Schifman at [email protected]

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