Charleston native Laura Myerscough Ianello is coming off the best two seasons of her career as women’s golf coach at the University of Arizona – and that’s saying something. The Wildcats won the NCAA title in 2018 and reached the semifinals last season, losing on the 18th hole of the final match. Since being named coach in May 2010, Ianello has guided Arizona to nine straight NCAA regionals, seven NCAA championships and developed nine All-Americans. She was named the Pac-12 co-coach of the year after last season.
Myerscough also won a national title as a golfer at Arizona (2000), where she played from 1998-2003. She recorded eight top-10 finishes, was the team’s captain in 2002-03 and was named an All-American honorable mention by the National Golf Coaches Association before heading out to the professional ranks, where she played five season on the LPGA Tour, Futures Tour and West Coast Ladies Tour. At Charleston High, she finished second in the 1996 IHSA state girls golf tournament and was later the runner-up in the 2000 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship.
Her father, Jerry Myerscough, says he knew Laura was going to be good when she played a golf tournament at age 14 against two seniors at the University of Illinois – and beat them both. The seniors, Jerry says, couldn’t believe Laura was only a freshman.
“Laura was always a very hard worker,” Jerry says. “A lot of people think sometimes that people are just lucky. They don’t see the work that goes into making you lucky.”
Laura recently spoke with Jeff Owens about playing golf in Coles County as a youth, her role models and Arizona’s talented 2019-20 squad, among other topics.
COLES COUNTY SPORTS: When did you discover the love for the game of golf?
LAURA MYERSCOUGH: When I was a child my father would spend most of his evenings after work on the golf course. My younger brother Matt and I started visiting the golf course to be with our dad around the age of 6 and 4. From then on we were hooked. My dad would spend many hours with us at the 100-yard practice hole at Charleston Country Club when we were beginning.
CCS: When did you realize you could make a living from golf?
MYERSCOUGH: My dream to play golf professionally developed when my father took me to the LPGA Rail Classic in Springfield, Illinois. I can remember following the ladies, watching their shots and walking behind them on the cart paths dreaming that one day I would be inside the ropes. After my playing career coaching was a very easy and enjoyable transition. There is nothing better than helping young people reach their goals similar to what many people had done for me.
CCS: Who are your golf mentors or heroes?
MYERSCOUGH: I loved Meg Mallon, Michelle McGann because of her big hats and, of course, Tiger Woods. An additional mentor that helped me develop as a top player was the EIU golf coach Mike Moncel and my high school coach Stan Adkins. Mike and Stan were highly influential in helping me grow my talent to an elite level. Mike was my only swing instructor and started teaching me at the age of 9. I can remember multiple days at his driving range in Mattoon and working with him over my college Christmas and spring breaks.
CCS: Take us back to the year 2000 when Arizona won the NCAA championship. What was your mind-frame as you got close to winning?
MYERSCOUGH: I was on the team that year but did not play in the NCAA Championship. I was very happy that the ladies in the team dominated at such a high level. We had all worked very hard that spring to get better.
CCS: Then in 2018, as a coach you helped Arizona to a team title. Did you trust the experience from 2000 or did that even come in to play?
MYERSCOUGH: To win as a team, you must come together and work for a common goal. The 2000 and 2018 teams were very similar in regard to knowing what they wanted and pushing through barriers to succeed.
CCS: Which championship do you savor more?
MYERSCOUGH: The 2018 Championship because my guidance and help was influential to the young woman on my team that week. Winning a title as a group that had persevered through losing a team member mid-year, having a new freshman join us in January and much more made it that much sweeter. The ladies were seen as the underdog the entire week and they rose to the occasion in each match.
CCS: What did you learn from playing on the LPGA circuit?
MYERSCOUGH: To not value my self-worth through my golf scores or money earned. To be the best means you must sacrifice and do the work. … If you’re not disciplined and don’t truly love to play then it’s not a place for you.
CCS: Have your daughters caught the golfing bug yet?
MYERSCOUGH: A little, but not too much. My husband Jeff and I will take them out on the course with us but no stringent practicing.
CCS: How often do you get back to Charleston?
MYERSCOUGH: I come home once or twice a year. We enjoy spending the summers in Illinois to escape the Arizona heat.
CCS: What are your top three favorite courses to play?
MYERSCOUGH: Charleston and Mattoon country clubs, Fox Chappell in Pittsburgh and Old Waverly in Portland. It’s easy to favor the golf courses where you have the best memories.
CCS: What advice do you have for young golfers?
MYERSCOUGH: Nothing can replace hard work. Success is something that is earned in life. Earn something through hard work and you will develop self-confidence.
CCS: Your dad has always seemed to be your biggest fan. How has he influenced you?
MYERSCOUGH: Jerry and Carol Myerscough have been my biggest fans and supporters. They sacrificed a lot for my success and I will forever be grateful. My father instilled a good work ethic in me while my mother was quick to remind me to be humble and kind. They were amazing parents and gave me balance. I’m successful today because of their belief and sacrifice.
CCS: Tell us a little about this year’s Wildcats team and what we can expect from them.
MYERSCOUGH: We have an amazingly talented and young women’s team. Out of the nine women on my roster, I have six new players and five of them are freshmen. These ladies are driven and they know they have big shoes to fill after we graduated Bianca Pagdanganan and Haley Moore, who are now on the LPGA Tour. Coaching is very similar to parenting where I need to do a few simple things: make sure they are practicing hard and improving, doing their homework and succeeding in school, and making sure these ladies are kind and polite human beings. Simple! Just kidding, nothing is simple when mentoring young people, but it is insanely enjoyable.