When the National Championship comes around in May, Junior Lani Elston will be comfortable on the Sunriver course. “It’s a lot like the courses I grew up on. It’s tight, tree lined you have to be accurate. I can draw on some home course knowledge.”
The Spokane, Wash., native built her knowledge of different courses at a young age. “I enjoy something about each course. Some of them have different greens; I love their greens. Some have different fairways; I love their fairways. The layouts are different, but I love this course, or that course. It’s just hard to determine just one I like.”
As a transfer from the University of Idaho, Elston was given a unique opportunity at Arizona not only to shine as a golfer but also to showcase her academic talents. As a music major, Elston shifts daily in different arenas. “It’s been an all-around experience. Especially with my discipline, I am a fine art major and also I’m an athlete. It’s kind of a clash of both worlds, just so many different things ?- I go to workouts, then I go to music theory,” Elston said. “The combination is very strange. That’s what people don’t expect is that I really enjoy it. It’s fun and a good opportunity.”
After sitting out a year during the 2002-03 season, Elston took time to learn the different courses of the desert and improve. ”The biggest benefit of Tucson that I can play year round. That is to me is the biggest benefit for my golf game.”
After 15 months of not competing in golf tournaments, Elston was ready to learn and focus on finding her magic on the course last year. “Last season was really just finding my way to compete again. I was just really getting comfortable with the courses.” Elston’s best tournament of her sophomore season didn’t come until the end of the year, where she finished tied for fifth at the Pac-10 Championships earning her All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection.
Feeling more confident this season, Elston has proven she has all the ability to lead the Wildcats to a national title. "Lani has been one of the better ball strikers in the country this year, hitting fairways and greens. It was only a matter of time before her putting and short game came around and allowed her to put together a really solid tournament,” Head Coach Greg Allen said.
Her collegiate best tournament came in February at the 2005 Wildcat Invitational. Coming into the final few holes, Elston was neck-and-neck with some of the best competition in the country. She held off to tie for third with her collegiate best score of 212 (-1).
Elston has made a steady improvement throughout her collegiate career, and looks to continue to improve during her final season to help her into her next journey. “I would love to try to be on tour. I’ve worked this hard for this long. I’ve been playing golf for 20 years. I’d love to go on tour and give it a try. I could have a good run at it and that’s what I hope to do,” Elston said.
Elston won’t be alone in her final journey, this summer she will get married and have “a good supportive husband” to help her along in her golf game.