With less than a month remaining in her college golf career, Tamara Surtees went to the one place that matters most.
The Santa Clara senior returned to Hawaii island for a few days this week to prepare for the stretch run of the season — and her career — beginning with the Anteater Invitational Monday in Dove Canyon, Calif.
"It’s finals weeks at school and I don’t have any," said Surtees, a senior who is majoring in marketing in the business school. "I just have final projects and we’re between tournaments so my coach let me come home for a few days."
It was like old times for Surtees, a 2008 Hawaii Prep graduate, as she practiced at the Kings’ Course in Waikoloa, where she grew up playing one of many different sports.
» School: Santa Clara
As a senior, she played both golf and softball in the same season, devoting all the extra time she had at getting better at both.
"I think I only missed one softball game because of a tournament and there were a couple of times I’d play a tournament during the day and then a softball game at night," she said. "I loved it."
Neither was her favorite sport back then — basketball was the most fun, she said — but golf was the sport that would provide her an opportunity at a college scholarship.
At one time, she thought about staying at home and playing at Hawaii, but a trip to Santa Clara changed her mind in an instant.
"Once I saw the campus, I didn’t even want to talk to any schools, really," Surtees said.
In her first three seasons with the Broncos, Surtees earned All-West Coast Conference honors. She was twice named honorable mention and made the first team as a sophomore, when she finished 10th at the WCC championships.
Last Wednesday, Surtees was one of 10 golfers named to the preseason all-conference team.
She’s third on the team with a 77.7 scoring average and has three top-15 finishes in five full events, including a fourth-place finish at the Santa Clara Colby Invitational, where she was the defending champion.
Surtees won the only tournament of her career as a junior, besting teammate Miki Ueoka, a 2007 Kauai alumnus who was a senior last year, in sudden death.
"I came in after the 18th hole and handed my scorecard to my coach and she looked at me and smirked," Surtees said. "A few minutes later, I found out we had to go through the playoff for the win and we played the 18th hole about three times.
"It was fun, though. Miki and I would walk down the fairway together laughing at ourselves."
Surtees finished in the top 15 of the WCC tournament all three years, but never finished higher than 10th. She hopes that changes this season.
Santa Clara will compete in the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic in Chandler, Ariz., April 9-11, before playing the WCC tournament at the San Juan Oaks Country Club, April 15-17.
"I know my scores don’t quite show it, but I’m happy with where I’m at," Surtees said. "I know I was picked to be on the WCC preseason team, but that just means I have to keep working hard and finish strong and hopefully come out on top in our conference tournament."
Surtees said she hasn’t figured out whether she’ll stay on the mainland or come back home after she graduates in June, but she does know that golf will be a part of her future.
"I’ll definitely need to find some sponsors before I decide on anything," she said. "I’ve got a lot of ideas bouncing around right now, but I told myself I’d wait until after the season to decide."