CGA Women’s Players of the Year

Still a teenager, CU golfer Morgan Miller named CGA Women’s Player of the Year; Marilyn Hardy the Senior POY for 2nd straight season

By Gary Baines – 11/24/2023

It’s been quite a year on the course for University of Colorado golfer Morgan Miller. There were many achievements, but it tells you a lot that she’s jumped 372 spots in the women’s World Amateur Golf Rankings since Jan. 1.

Now in the top 750 women’s amateurs in the world, Miller has particularly soared in the world of college golf. After the fall portion of the schedule that recently concluded, Miller is ranked 98th in the nation among female college golfers. Considering that thousands of women play college golf, than’s no small accomplishment.

Miller’s tremendous improvement over the last year — after being a very good player before that — brings us to recent statewide recognition for how she’s performed. The CU sophomore and CGA member, just 19 years old, was just named the CGA’s Women’s Player of the Year for 2023 based on her showings at various state, regional and national tournaments.

“It’s an honor,” Miller said in a recent phone interview. “I appreciate it. I’ve been working hard the last year and it’s good to know it’s being acknowledged. I joined the Colorado Golf Association a couple of years ago and I’ve love it so much, so I’m very grateful.”

Miller becomes the second CU golfer in the last four seasons to earn the CGA Women’s POY honor, after Kirsty Hodgkins in 2020.

Meanwhile, Marilyn Hardy, a part-time resident of Gunnison who plays out of Dos Rios Golf Club, earned CGA Women’s Senior Player of the Year honors for the second straight year. (For details about Hardy’s 2023 accomplishments, scroll down.) Coincidentally, both Hardy and Miller live part of the year in Colorado and another part in Texas. Hardy shares time between Gunnison and Magnolia, while Miller spends hers in Boulder and Cedar Park.

(Before we move on, a story on the CGA men’s Players of the Year can be accessed here.)

Here are the highlights of 2023 for the CGA women’s Players of the Year:

Miller has had plenty of reasons to smile in 2023.

— CGA Women’s Player of the Year: CU golfer Morgan Miller — Miller is no stranger to success in Colorado, despite being born and raised in Texas, around the Austin area. As a junior golfer, she joined the CGA and went on to win the girls title in the Colorado Junior Match Play in both 2020 and ’21. And then she committed to CU and starting playing for the Buffs about 15 months ago.

“I love golf in Colorado,” Miller said. “I like the bent (grass) greens. Everything about it I love. I try to get up there as much as possible in the summer. I always love tournaments up there.”

Miller had a strong freshman season that included a ninth-place showing in the 2022 Golfweek Red Sky Classic in Wolcott. But this year, she’s put it in another gear.

In January, she won a prestigious (non-collegiate) tournament for women, the Jones/Doherty in Florida. Past champions there include Babe Zaharias, JoAnne Carter, Patty Berg and Lexi Thompson.

Miller after her victory in tne prestigious Jones/Doherty in January.

Then during the summer, Miller compted in the U.S. Women’s Amateur after originally being an alternate in qualifying at Walnut Creek Golf Preserve. And in the national championship, she advanced to match play before bowing out in 19 holes in the round of 64. She calls that performance, in arguably’s the world’s top amateur championship for females, perhaps her most memorable performance of the year.

“The Women’s Am was a really good memory,” Miller said. “I had my coach (Madeleine Sheils, the current associate head coach at CU, who will become the women’s head coach in the middle of 2024) on the bag and we figured a lot of stuff out together. I feel like that brought a consistency and confidence into the season going forward. I started out strong on my first tournaments (of the 2023-24 college schedule). I had a personal-best tournament at Colorado State and it just kind of took off from there. Having two or three good tournaments back to back, that just keeps adding up.”

Also during the summer, Miller finished third in the CGA Women’s Stroke Play, an event won by two-time CGA Women’s Player of the Year Leigha Devine. Likewise in non-college tournaments, Miller was medalist (with CU teammate Maria Harrouch) in Colorado-based qualifying for the 2024 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball qualifying and she made it to the round of 32 of the 2023 U.S. Four-Ball (with former Buff teammate Malak Bouraeda), losing in 21 holes.

Then this fall in college golf, Miller has particularly shined. 

In five college tournaments so far this season, she’s set a program record for stroke average in the fall (70.4) and for rounds in the 60s in a single season (with seven, though the Buffs aren’t even at the halfway point of the schedule). As far as sheer results go, Miller has recorded three top-3 finishes in five events, with a second (in Fort Collins) and two thirds (one coming in Highlands Ranch).

When asked of what she’s most proud during 2023, Miller said, “I’d probably saying breaking the school records. (Beside the aforementioned, consecutive rounds in the 60s — at four an outright CU mark — and sub-par rounds in a row — at six, tied for the program record.) I’d say that’s my biggest accomplishment and I’m proud of that. Having that — and hopefully holding onto that for a while — is something I’m proud of. It’s always an honor to hold a school record.”

To what does Miller attribute her significant improvement over the course of 2023?

“My putting and wedges have really taken a turn,” she said. “I was working so hard over the summer on my putting, and something eventually clicked. I had the opportunity to try that out over the summer before the fall (college) season and it just stuck with me. It’s very consistent. It’s helped my confidence and made me play better. Wedges, you’ve got to keep hitting them, keep playing. Eventually, it will come to you.”

Looking ahead, Miller will deal with a head coaching change in the CU women’s program halfway through her college career as Anne Kelly will retire next year and Sheils will take over heading into the 2024-25 schedule.

“I’m going to miss Anne. She’s a mom, right?” said Miller, who has aspirations of eventually playing professional tour golf. “She’s always there for you. She’s someone you can talk to on and off the golf course no matter what. We’re going to miss her. But Maddy brings a fire to the team and I think it’s going to be good for her to become the head coach. It’s going to be weird having someone new, but Maddy has done a great job coming over from Stanford. She’s just built up a confidence in me. We have this connection. She finds a way to calm me down on the golf course — of talking to me on the golf course — that helps me a lot.”

Marilyn Hardy’s 2023 season was highlighted by a quarterfinal showing in the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur. (file photo)

CGA Women’s Senior Player of the Year: Marilyn Hardy of Dos Rios Golf Club: In an age-related category in which repeating as CGA player of the year is the norm rather than the exception, Hardy made it CGA Women’s Senior POY for a second consecutive season. 

In that regard, Hardy follows in the footsteps of Kristine Franklin (WSPOY from 2018 through ’21) and Kim Eaton (WSPOY from 2009 through ’13 and 2015 through ’17). 

Hardy had a big year both in Colorado and nationally. In the Centennial State, she won the CGA Women’s Mid-Amateur Stroke Play and the Women’s Senior Stroke Play for the second time. She also finished runner-up — to Eaton — in the CGA Women’s Senior Match Play. In the CGA Mid-Am, among the players she beat was Dawn Woodard, the runner-up in the 2023 Canadian Women’s Mid-Am, and 2004 U.S. Mid-Amateur champ Corey Weworski.

Also în Colorado — specifically at Eisenhower Golf Club at the Air Force Academy — Hardy finished third in qualifying and earned a berth in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open. She also made it to the quarterfinals of the open-age CGA Women’s Match Play.

But arguably Hardy’s most impressive accomplishment of the year came in the fall when she advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur for the second time as she previously managed that feat in 2013. This time, Hardy lost in the quarters, 2 and 1. Hardy, 62,  made it to the semifinals of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur in 1987.

In Texas, Hardy has twice won the Women’s Senior Stroke Play, including last year.

About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for since 2009. He was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates