Golf teams wrap up season at conference tournament

Andy Jobanek

Both the Whitman men’s and women’s golf teams will travel to the conference tournaments this coming weekend with different goals.

For the men, who will take six players to the Apple Tree Country Club in Yakima, Wash., the hope is that top scorers Brian Barton, Paul De Barros and Kyle Buckingham can break into the top 10.

“While numerically we’re out of the running for the championship, we’re sill very much in contention as individuals,” said Head Coach Peter McClure.

The team also knows that a good showing in the tournament means greater respect for Whitman Athletics.

“The team understands that although we’re not in running for the conference championship we can contribute to the overall standing of the sports department at Whitman College compared to the other schools,” said McClure.

The other players making the trip are Garth Brandal, Grant Brandal and Noah Jolley. All six will complete individually and the lowest four scores make up the team’s overall total. That total is then compared to the other teams; totals and each squad is given two points for every team that they finish above at the conference tournament.

Overall, this season’s men’s team has had little trouble performing as a unit.

“[This season] we’ve tried to do more organized team practices where in the past we did more individual workouts,” said Brandal.

Aiding in that has been the leadership of Co-Captains Kyle Buckingham and Paul De Barros, who have impressed McClure with their communication with the other players.
On the women’s side, participation has been a problem. With only four members on the team, each member’s score will count in the team’s total at the conference tournament.

“With the whole athletic scene at Whitman, with so much to do and golf being a sport that takes a while to go out and play, we do have trouble keeping numbers,” said junior Shawn Kelly.

McClure added that the lack of an extra golfer has forced the team to elevate their level of play because they know that there isn’t the extra round to throw out from the team’s total.

Teammates Tamara Carley, Kelsi Evans and first-year sensation Sydney Saito will accompany Kelly at the upcoming conference tournament. So far this season, all have shot well, but Saito has particularly impressed her coach.

“She’s shown such determination and willingness to stick with us. Although we haven’t been able to get the numbers that we want out, she’s a good player and she’s got a very good attitude and I look forward to having her back next year,” said McClure.

With Saito’s youth comes hope for next year. The team does not lose a player from this year’s foursome and is already working towards filling up the roster for next season.

“We’re working on making it accessible to a lot of different people because there is definitely a lot of interest, but it’s just the concern that people don’t have time for it,” said Kelly.

“I definitely think that the other teams talk about Whitman being the most fun team to play with, which we definitely take as a huge compliment. Now we’re just looking for the most fun and the best.”