Notre Dame coach still has Bowling Green in her blood


By J. Patrick Eaken

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — New University of Notre Dame head women’s golf coach Caroline Powers-Ellis still has Bowling Green in her blood.

The All-Big Ten Golfer of the Year at Michigan State and brother of Bowling Green State University men’s golf coach John Powers had humble beginnings.

In 1994, she was 3 years old when her parents brought the family to BG, and before you knew it, they were regulars at Bowling Green Country Club.

“We grew up across Poe Road from the country club, so growing up our family would go over there at nighttime,” Powers-Ellis said. “We would play a lot of rounds. I really grew up on Bowling Green Country Club and then our family’s nine-hole course, Lincoln Hills, in Upper Sandusky, Ohio.

“The two of those, I spent a lot of time with family learning the game and learning the etiquette and all that. In my mind, there is no better way to grow up than having both of those as part of my life.”

The family was often nicknamed “The Brady Bunch” at BGCC because of the way they would pile onto a golf cart.

“We were the Brady Bunch on the golf cart but when we got near the clubhouse, we took our three kids and our two parents in,” Powers-Ellis said. “We were a fivesome riding on the golf cart, and they would say, ‘Get out, you can’t ride anymore.’”

She golfed at BGCC and Forrest Creason Golf Course until high school when she joined the Bowling Green High School boys team before girls teams were widely available. She says that made her a better player.

“It was honestly the best thing that could have happened to me for my development. Just playing from the longer tees, having to figure it out a lot more,” Powers-Ellis said.

“Really when I got to college the yardages got shorter, so that was a pretty big step for a lot of players — just consistently a lot more longer yardages,” Powers-Ellis continued. “But for me that was not a factor, which was something I was thankful for.

“It made me get so much better because I wasn’t the best by any means. I had to do a lot to figure out how to keep up. I think it just made me a lot better faster than I would have been able to get there if that hadn’t happened.”

A Spartans’ dream come true

Then it was on to Michigan State — where she could have only dreamed of playing as a youngster.

“My cousin Emily (Bastel) played at MSU, so I think ever since I was in elementary school, I always thought it was a cool place because Emily was my hero and I wanted to be like her,” Powers-Ellis said.

“But then when push came to shove and I was in the recruiting process, it was close to home, which I wanted,” she said. “I loved the coaches, I loved the team, and I just really felt like it was a place that if I worked hard enough, I could become a contributing member of the team.”

Bastel is now Emily Glaser, the golf coach at the University of Florida. Bastel has led the Gators to six NCAA championship tournaments in nine years, including four straight from 2016-19.

Ellis-Powers and Bastels’ grandparents owned Lincoln Hills and now Bastel’s parents run the Upper Sandusky course.

At Michigan State, Powers-Ellis established herself as one of the greatest golfers in school history – as she is one of just two women’s athletes to earn the Alderton Award (MSU Athlete of the Year) three times.

Named the 2013 Big Ten Women’s Golfer of the Year, Powers-Ellis completed her career as the school’s all-time record holder in scoring average (74.26) and owns three of the top four single-season scoring averages in program history.

A three-time honorable mention All-American and All-Big Ten First Team selection, Powers-Ellis helped lead the Spartans to back-to-back Big Ten championships in 2011 and 2012 and a school-record finish at the 2013 NCAA Championships as the team tied for ninth place.

She qualified as an individual for the 2011 NCAA championships and placed sixth, tied for the highest ever by a Spartan at nationals.

In addition to winning the Alderton Award for the third time in 2013, Powers Ellis also was named the female winner of the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor and the recipient of the Chester Brewer Leadership Award.

The professional tour and now head Irish

After graduating from MSU in 2013, Powers Ellis played on the Symetra Tour. She recorded 11 top-20 finishes, including a career-best fourth place at the 2014 Firekeepers Casino Hotel Championship in Battle Creek, Michigan.

“That experience was incredible. My golf game was up and down. I didn’t like it when I wasn’t playing well, but I still loved it,” Powers-Ellis said. “I know that I was able to grow a lot in my knowledge of golf, training, and practice.

“I worked with some different coaches who I think made an impact on me and how I’m able to help players now,” Powers-Ellis continued. “Personally, you grow a lot when you are out there on the road and riding the highs and lows of that life. I’m very fortunate to be able to do that for three years and to have that be part of my story.”

This summer, Notre Dame Director of Golf John Handrigan announced the addition of Powers-Ellis to his staff as the head women’s coach.

Powers-Ellis is joining the Irish after spending six seasons as an assistant coach at her alma mater Michigan State.

“It’s been amazing. I loved Michigan State and I’m so thankful for my time there and everything I was able to learn quickly,” Powers-Ellis said.

“When a position opened at a place like Notre Dame, it was something that would be an incredible opportunity. I knew I wanted to see it through and see what it was like from just what the opportunities are for the student-athletes and what it looks like here.”

However, for Powers-Ellis, there is still no place like BG.

“As far as Bowling Green goes, it is very deeply rooted in me. I think people always laugh at me a little bit, at least my friends, because I am so proud to be from Bowling Green,” Powers-Ellis said.

“When I tell people when I’m out and about, to tell them where I’m from I think it will make more sense if you just say the biggest town close to you, like ‘I’m from Toledo,’ but I definitely always say ‘I’m from Bowling Green, Ohio.

“It is near and dear to my heart, and to my parents and my brother and his wife and daughter live in Bowling Green still, so I still come back all the time and it’s very much a part of who I am.”

There is even more golf in her family, ever since Powers-Ellis married Michigan State men’s golf associate head coach Dan Ellis in summer 2020.

Her parents are Buddy and Lindy, and sister Barbara is director of hockey operations at MSU.

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