Former Mack star inspires college-bound Phoebe Sundberg

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Submitted photos – Phoebe Sundberg and her family at last week’s letter signing.

By Ray Hamill — McKinleyville senior Phoebe Sundberg believes she has found the perfect fit to continue her golf and academic career, after recently committing to take her talents to Dominican University.

Last week, the Mack senior signed a letter of intent to play at the San Rafael school after a summer of wondering where she would play collegiately.

The only thing she knew for certain was that she was going to play college golf somewhere, and that’s something she’s known since she was in sixth grade when former Panthers star McKenzie Ford took her talents to Boise State.

“She kind of inspired me,” Sundberg said of Ford, the daughter of Merritt Ford, Sundberg’s coach at the time, who went on to star for the Division-I Broncos before graduating in 2016. “And ever since then I’ve always wanted to play in college.”

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Domincan, however, wasn’t always on the agenda.

She first met Dominican golf coach Gary Nelson at a Stanford camp two years ago, and after running into him again at the same camp this past summer, he asked her if she had made a decision on which college she wanted to attend.

At the time, Sundberg had received an offer from Sterling College in Kansas, and had visited Sonoma State, but in her own words, “none of them were really sticking out to me.”

And when Nelson extended a scholarship offer, the McKinleyville senior came to sudden realization.76638515_10217690040995499_679453685809414144_o 2

“It really just hit home that it checked all the boxes on my list,” Sundberg said of Dominican. “It was pretty close, but far enough away; they had a great coach; I met with some of my teammates and they were nice; and I liked the campus.”

Just as important, the academic side of things was everything the future business management major could have hoped for.

“It was really everything I was looking for in a school,” she said. “The balance between golf and academics is really important to me.”

Especially with the travel involved in playing collegiately, and Sundberg feels the smaller classes at the smaller private school, which has less than 1,800 students, will be beneficial.

She also may be joining the Penguins at an opportune time, along with a highly-rated recruiting class for the Pac West school’s golf program.

“(The coach) is really trying to focus on rebuilding the team,” Sundberg said, adding that the 2020 recruiting class “is going to be a strong group.”


Sundberg leaves in her wake an impressive high school golf career, one which saw her medal five times in the North Coast Section, including leading the local charge at the postseason tournament this fall.

She says her time at McKinleyville helped her grow as a golfer, and now she’s looking forward to the next chapter in her life after graduation.

“I’m definitely excited for new things and new adventures,” she said.

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