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Dr. J. Patrick McLaughlin, or “J. Pat” as he is known, was hired as the first-ever women’s golf coach at Northwest Missouri State in the spring of 2006, and the program began official competition in the fall of 2007.
Previously, McLaughlin had served as head coach of Northwest’s club golf team since its inception in 2001. Five years later, he was involved in assisting the team’s transition into a NCAA-playing member in the MIAA Conference.
The 2012 season saw the Bearcat women’s golf program rise to new highest in the young program’s history. McLaughlin was named MIAA Coach of the Year helping guide the Bearcats to two tournament wins and two runner-up finishes. The Bearcats also recorded their highest finish at the MIAA Championships with a third place finish while sophomore Cassie Lowell became the first Bearcat to claim the MIAA Individual Championship.
Along with Lowell becoming the first Bearcat to win the MIAA Championship, she was named MIAA Player of the Year – another first for the program. The awards were not finished as Steph Charteris was named MIAA Freshman of the Year, giving the Bearcats back-to-back winners after Lowell was named to league’s top newcomer the previous season.
In the beginning, it took just two competitions for Coach McLaughlin to earn the program’s first tournament victory. After placing second at Northwest’s Bearcat Invitational to kick off the program, McLaughlin’s team won Graceland’s Yellowjacket Invitational by eight strokes over second-place Avila.
Northwest placed in the top three six times in nine tournaments during its inaugural year including a return to the winner’s circle during the spring season by claiming the team title at the Avila Invitational in Kansas City.
Starting with the inaugural year, the Bearcat women’s golf team has continued its successful ways winning 12 tournaments and seen three separate Bearcats claim individual champions. Collectively the program has seen 11 individual champions, including Lowell’s MIAA Title in 2012.
Under McLaughlin, the Bearcats have also placed seven players on the National Golf Coaches Association Academic all-America Team. Jessica Feuerbach and Megan Chaney earned the first all-America honors in 2010 as three more Bearcats were named to the NGCA Academic all-America team the following year with Tess Edwards, Kristina D’Angela and Cassie Lowell earning honors. In 2012 Lowell earned her second Academic all-America honor as Steph Charteris gave Northwest its third straight season with at least two honorees.
A 1975 graduate of Central Missouri State, Coach McLaughlin has been a professor in the academic fields of law and insurance at Northwest since 1978, the same year he earned his law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Coach McLaughlin lives in Maryville with his wife, Lana. The couple has two daughters, Megan and Erin. Megan (Class of 2003) was a member of the 2001 club team and helped jumpstart the sport at Northwest into its varsity status of today.