Whitman golf looks to move up at conference championship

Tyler Hurlburt

On Friday and Saturday April 22 and 23, the Whitman men’s golf team looks to break out of the middle of the conference and stand among the best at the NWC Championships at Canyon Lakes Golf Course in Kennewick, Wash.

The conference championship is the third and final major tournament for NWC golf teams. Whitman currently sits in fifth place out of the nine teams in the conference after taking fifth at the first two tournaments.

Despite finishing right in the middle of the conference at the other major tournaments, head coach Peter McClure believes that his team has the potential to progress up the conference ladder.

“We really think that we can move up into the top third or at least up one spot,” McClure said.

The Missionaries have good reason to think that they can move up. On Saturday April 9, Whitman beat Pacific 334-318 at the three-team Whitman Golf Invitational, with Whitworth taking the overall victory shooting a combined 304. Currently Pacific and Whitworth are third and fourth in the conference respectively.

According to sophomore Peter Clark, the team is motivated by this recent performance.

“We just beat Pacific and we are really pumped to make a move up,” Clark said. “We are looking to overtake Whitworth.”

Since the beginning of the season it has been the team’s goal to finish in the top third of the conference, but Clark believes that they have not lived up to their full potential.

“We’ve probably done a little worse than we would have liked to, but just a little,” Clark said.

Whitman could improve its performance by playing more consistently over both days of the two day major tournaments. At both the Fall and Spring Classics, the teams shot much better during the second day of competition.

In the fall after starting with a four-golfer combined score of 340, the team came back to shoot a 323. This trend was even more pronounced at the Spring Classic, partly due to weather, when the team followed a first day 344 with a 318 on the second day.

The upcoming conference championship marks the end of lone senior Brian Barton’s collegiate golf career. During his four years, Barton has consistently been Whitman’s top golfer. Barton often shoots among the best golfers in the conference, highlighted by medalist honors at the NWC Northern Colleges  Men’s Golf Tournament during the fall of his junior year.

Despite losing its top player at the end of the season, the team is optimistic about its future.

“Brian is our leader. He is our man. He is who we look to every tournament,” said Clark. “But, everybody is learning how to play tournament golf which we can use for next year.”

“I am very optimistic about our future although Brian has been the best player the past couple of years,” McClure said. “We have three golfers here for admitted students’ weekend. If we could get two of three that would be great.”