Golf Teams Shoot for Stellar Season
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Whitman College golf is off to another solid start following a great finish to their 2013 spring season. The women’s team ended the Northwest Conference tournament with a second place finish on the shoulders of an outstanding overall team effort, and the men’s team ended in fourth with many young players stepping up and helping the team with their individual play.
For the fall season, though there are no national implications quite yet as the national tournament is at the end of the spring season, both teams have their eyes on consistent top finishes in conference tournaments. However, the team’s goals are a bit different than those of other Whitman teams.
“College golf is an interesting sport, as the team score is the sum of individual performances. Your performance on the course doesn’t directly affect your teammates as it does in basketball or baseball, so you really need to stay focused on what you can do individually to help the team and trust your teammates to do their part,” said Andrew Welch, the only fourth-year member of the men’s team.
Senior Catelyn Webber revealed that the women’s team was already looking toward what it would take to make nationals.
“We are definitely looking to make it to nationals, and not just make it to nationals, but place top 10,” said Webber.
“I think we’re a very different team mentally. Everyone seems more focused and more expecting of great results.”
Junior Kelly Sweeney echoed similar sentiments, even a bit more positive than Webber about nationals.
“Our first conference fall tournament [was last] weekend, the 21st and 22nd, but I feel that our team had all worked very hard on their individual games this summer and have come back ready to play to the best of their ability. Our team goals are to place in the top five at nationals and support each other no matter what along the way,” said Sweeney.
Catelyn and Kelley were just as ambitious with their personal goals, as they each are looking to not only place highly in tournaments, but win them outright.
“This season I am going to continue to better my game and improve from my previous years of playing for Whitman. My goal is to win the fall classic tournament in October and help put my team in the best position possible to go to nationals in May next year,” said Sweeney.
Webber feels optimistic about her individual season as well.
“Individually I want to win a couple of big tournaments and just in general have an awesome senior year,” said Webber.
Given the respectively low numbers on both the men’s and women’s rosters, a natural occurrence for college golf as only a select few can compete in tournaments, incoming first-years are not only valuable for the immediate team results, but also for development and potential in years to come. This season both teams have brought in one first-year each, both of which are already contributing to their teams.
“We have one new freshman this year, Griffin Lamb. I have played with him multiple times this season already and he shows great promise, especially in his short game [putting]. He could probably give me some tips,” said Welch.
As far as scoring and tournaments go, only five players travel and the top four scores on the team count, so competition is naturally pretty tight within the team. On the women’s team in particular, there is so much talent that the number of girls who could potentially earn points for their team is very high.
“We have a very deep team when it comes to scoring and Lou Points, our freshman, fits right into that mix. She is a great addition to our team and will definitely help us to get to nationals,” said Sweeney.
Webber has also been impressed with Points’ play as well as her attitude.
“Lou came in with a great amount of confidence coming off some great summer play, and for a first-year, that’s rare. That really helps boost the rest of the team morale,” said Webber.
The men’s team has started to implement a system of recording their weekly goals and reflecting on them often.
“This year we are really putting an emphasis on documenting. Before each round, we write down two goals and revisit them after the round to see if we were able to meet them. We are also putting more of an emphasis on statistics so we can take advantage of our strengths and target our weaknesses during practice,” said Welch.
The statistics referred to are simple enough, ranging from percent of fairways and greens hit to number of putts, but will really prove to make quite a difference if each player can be consistent with the goals they have laid out for themselves.
Since golf is such an individually oriented game, mental focus is important and experience is something that can’t be taught, so the emphasis will be on the seniors to help lead their teammates through tough tournaments. However, there are younger players who are already showing great maturity.
Sophomore Daniel Hoffman has hit consistently well through the first two weeks of the season and is really seeing his play come together in all aspects of the game. As the only returning sophomore, his play will help set the tone for Lamb, the only first-year.
Welch summed up the goals of the season as any fun-loving but wise senior would.
“This year we are going to play less golf. In competitive rounds, that is. We’re going to play less golf by getting the ball in the hole in fewer tries,” said Welch.