Truman State University junior golfer Nicolle Barmettler has been seeking more than just low scores on the course. She also trains for consistency in a game of ups and downs.
From afar, fans can look at Barmettler’s scores from her first two and a half years and conclude that she already has it. In her first 23 competitions, Barmettler posted the top team score in 22 of them, culminating in her solo appearance at the NCAA regional last year — the first Truman golfer to qualify for the regional since alumna Katie Spangler in 2008. Nevertheless, Barmettler says she can be even better.
“It is a very frustrating game sometimes,” Barmettler says. “That’s what keeps me coming back.”
Barmettler says her fall performance left her feeling unsatisfied. Her average round score last year was 78.8 through 21 rounds. This year, her score is 79.4 through 10 rounds.
Head coach Clint Fitzpatrick says as a high school athlete, Barmettler already had a rare positive attitude that would help her recover quicker from bad rounds. Of course, he looked at Barmettler’s stellar scores, but he says her desirable attitude is what made her a can’t-miss recruit three years ago.
“It’s hard to look at her and see whether she’s having a bad round or a good round,” Fitzpatrick says.
Truman hired Fitzpatrick to fill an unexpected vacancy when longtime coach Sam Lesseig — the Bulldogs’ only coach since 1985 — passed away in 2013. Lesseig was instrumental in launching the program and was also speaking with Barmettler about coming to Truman. After his passing, Fitzpatrick says Barmettler’s commitment was up in the air.
Fitzpatrick says he realized convincing Barmettler to join the program was a huge priority. He says calling Barmettler was one of his first tasks as the new head coach.
With Barmettler on the team, Fitzpatrick says she has been invaluable from a performance standpoint — her score has been counted at every event she played — and most importantly, from a leadership standpoint. While Barmettler isn’t a vocal leader, he says, she is still a dedicated player who leads by example. Oftentimes, Fitzpatrick uses her as an example as somebody the other women on the team can model themselves after.
“I don’t think we can put into words what she means to this team,” Fitzpatrick says.
Barmettler’s dedication doesn’t surprise her sister and assistant coach Kim Barmettler in the slightest. The Bulldog bloodline began with Kim Barmettler when she competed for Truman from 2012 to 2016. Kim Barmettler says she saw this as they were playing together in high school and at Truman when Nicolle Barmettler would refine her game almost every day. She says their friendly sibling rivalry translates to the rest of the women on the team.
“She would push me to be better, and I would try to push her too,” Kim Barmettler says.
Kim Barmettler says her younger sister seriously entertained the idea of joining her at Truman after visiting one summer and watching her play in one of her tournaments. She says having a connection to home away from home was important to Nicolle Barmettler in her decision.
Kim Barmettler says playing with and coaching her sister gives Nicolle Barmettler someone familiar to lean on and someone familiar with her swing to offer advice and critique. She says her sister asks her to take videos of her swing to analyze later.