The Daily Californian Online

Great Scott

By Byron Atashian
Contributing Writer
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Category: Sports

With teammates Pia Halbig and Andrea Waters just half a block away and Emily Childs and Diane Kwon in the apartment above her, Cal women's golfer Roseanne Niven's life is far different than on her family's farm in Scotland.

Growing up with her three siblings, Fergus, Annabel and Crawford, in Perth, Niven is glad they didn't have neighbors-they were a noisy pack.

The fearsome four would peruse the family's farm shop, help run the restaurant and sometimes even hit the links with their parents.

With golf such a permanent factor throughout her life, it's hard to imagine there was a time when Niven once hated the sport. When she was as young as seven years old, her big brother would drag her along with him to the course to play with an older all-boy group. For the first three years, all she wanted to do was leave the course and return to the farm.

But then she picked up a knack for the sport, her handicap plummeted and oh how things changed.

"After a couple years I got addicted, and it was non-stop since then," Niven says.

Despite Niven's rocky early experiences, a fierce competition soon developed with that same older brother, spurring her on her way to several major European tournaments. She won the British Amateur in 2008, played for the Scottish National team for five years, won the Scottish under-18's when she was 16, just to name a few. It was at one of these tournaments where she first walked by former Cal assistant coach Anna Walker. Niven flew out to Cal in the fall of 2007 for 48 hours, saw the beautiful weather and said, "How can I say no?"

Now in her senior year, Niven continues the same friendly habits of teasing and trash-talking from her sibling rivalry with her Cal family.

"I make fun of myself all the time, and I like to make fun of other people, too," she says. "They can make fun of me if I can make fun of them."

Niven, particularly noted for her one-liners, is an unending source of entertainment for the team.

"She's one of our funniest players," McDaniel says. "I know that tomorrow she'll make me laugh somehow."

The team spends countless hours together at practice and in the aged and dilapidated team van they call Mavis. Add Niven's sense of humor, and you have a perfect recipe for inside jokes.

During last month's Peg Barnard Invitational, Niven asked teammate Joanne Lee-Jo for short-what her religion was after she hit a hole-in-one. Upon hearing that Jo was Christian, Niven replied, "Oh, I thought you were Jehovah's witness," paving the way for a slew of jokes about being witnesses to 'Jo'-hovah's hole-in-one.

"We spend a lot of time together and it's great because you can only really spend that much time together with people you are true friends with," Niven says.

Her sense of humor and experience as the only senior on the team make her approachable to all of her teammates.

"Managing everything at Cal is something everyone has to learn when they first come in," Niven says. "We've had a couple of new players and they'll ask so when do you fit the studying in or how do you balance things."

Not only does Niven provide personal support, but she draws on her experience in Scotland to contribute professionally as well.

"If I was going ask somebody to demonstrate a low running shot, she would know those things," says McDaniel. "She's got a lot of savvy on the golf course."

Compared to American golf courses, the Scottish and other European courses Niven played on before coming to Cal are much more affected by weather conditions, which taught her to be more creative with her shots. It's these "Scottish shots" that McDaniel often tells Niven to use.

She's almost at the end of her career at Cal. Over the years, she played in every tournament of her debut season and earned honorable mention for the Pac-10 All-Academic team as a junior. She's done well enough that now Niven hopes to turn pro upon her graduation in December.

Perhaps seven-year-old Niven would have felt differently about going to the golf course if she had known her future.

Article Link: