Shelley Finnestad helped put Iowa State women’s golf on the map after one of the greatest individual seasons in school history. The Boone, Iowa, native was a regular competitor in the ISU golf lineup for three seasons (1991-93), but she blossomed into one of the greatest players in school history in her senior season.
Finnestad forged her way into the Cyclone lineup in her sophomore year (1990-91) and was the team leader by her junior campaign (1991-92). Finnestad earned academic All-America honors as a junior, recording two top-10 finishes while playing in every tournament for the Cyclones.
As a senior in 1992-93, Finnestad took her game to the next level. She worked hard in the summer improving her skills, especially her short game. Her hard work was rewarded. Finnestad posted four top-10 finishes, won two tournaments and recorded ISU’s single-season stroke average record (77.2) in her final season.
Finnestad saved her best work for last, winning medalist honors at the 1993 Big Eight Conference Championship, helping the Cyclones win their first league title in school history. Finnestad fired rounds of 75-80-77 at Firethorn Golf Club in Lincoln, Neb., to become the only Cyclone to win an individual women’s golf conference title. Her performance helped propel ISU to its first NCAA postseason appearance, as the Cyclones qualified for NCAA Regional competition. Iowa State finished 11th at the NCAA Regional, with Finnestad leading the way as ISU’s highest finisher, tying for 34th with a 234 total. Finnestad capped off her incredible season by earning her third consecutive NGCA Academic All-America award. Her 77.2 single-season stroke average record stood for over 10 years.
After her golfing eligibility expired, Finnestad competed on the ISU women’s basketball team for one season (1993-94). Following graduation, Finnestad pursued a professional golfing career. For several years, she competed professionally on the LPGA’s developmental Futures tour. In 1998, Finnestad became the first ISU graduate to compete in the United States Women’s Open, playing at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis. She carded rounds of 76-77 (153), missing the cut by three strokes.