Coming off its best season in school history, the men’s golf team looks to start its spring season at Dalhousie Golf Club in Cape Girardeau, Mo., hoping to take the momentum from last year and launch into another great year.
Making it all the way to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Men’s National Golf Championship in Salem, Ore., last spring, the Missouri Baptist University men’s golf team finished its best year in school history. And this weekend as the team opens its 2014 campaign, returning golfers plan to pick up right where they left off.
According to GolfStat.com, the team, led by head coach Justin Hoagland, had a comparative win ratio of 59.192 percent, the best in school history.
Every year the golf team has a beginning-of-the-year meeting to sit down and make goals for the year to come: To win the American Midwest Conference Championship and make it to the NAIA National Championship.
“I was so proud of the team for backing up my bold words at the coaches meeting before the conference match. I told the other coaches I felt like we were going to win,” said Hoagland.
Missouri Baptist University took the AMC conference title with a three-round score of 890 (+26).
David Long led the Spartans, taking second place individually with a three-day score of 221 (+5), Jan-Henry Jordaan took third place individually with a three-day score of 222 (+6), Ryan Rerich 223 (+7), Jack Jackson 225 (+9), and Sam Mauer 229 (+13).
“Looking back on the back nine at the conference championship, I wish I could have followed my No. 2 player, David Long, in his round,” said Hoagland.
Long carded the lowest nine-hole round of the tournament, a 5-under-par 31, to help clinch the AMC Conference Championship title for the Spartans.
“As a team, we would all love to repeat as conference champions. Personally speaking, I would like to play a role on the team and take part in the conference tourney at the end of April,” said Rerich.
After coming out on top of the field at the conference championship, the Spartans’ goals were half way met — they were finally on their way to Oregon. But that’s where things got a little shaky for a team not accustomed to this big stage.
“I realized once we got there that we were under-prepared, and seemed to be in over our heads, judging by the caliber of players we were up against,” said Hoagland.
The team finished 25th out of 28 teams at the national championship.
“I could tell that my guys were a little awestruck about being at nationals for the first time. We weren’t in the right state of mind to play well. I plan to get back next year (2014) and approach it with a more laid-back mindset,” said Hoagland.
The team was led to nationals by Jackson, senior captain, who finished conference with a three-day score of 225 (+9).
“I was so happy to finally make it to nationals last year. My first three years had been let-downs in the end, which made it even more special to make it on my last year,” said Jackson.
Jackson plans to pursue a future in the golf business as a golf professional in his hometown of Bridgnorth, England.
“I also hope the team can keep up the momentum after I am gone. I know that David Long will be able to step into the No. 1 spot and help lead the team next year,” said Jackson.
Jackson was one of three eligible seniors on the team last year, joined by Ben Werner and Steven Tanner.
“My favorite part about last year was winning, as a team, the only tournament that I participated in and getting to see my best friend take the first-place individual win,” said Tanner. “Also, I loved the way the team prepared for conference, they deserved the win.”
Werner tagged along to the national tournament as an alternate and an unofficial assistant coach, but had a good time nevertheless.
“I just enjoyed being there with the team and getting to travel out to Salem, Ore., where I had never been. Even though I did not get to play, it was still an awesome experience,” said Werner.
The MBU men’s golf team is preparing for another successful season in hopes of making it back to the national tournament, which will be held in Daytona Beach, Fla., in May of 2014.