Golf teams prepare spring competition

Cole Anderson

Daniel Hoffman '16 drives during a recent practice.  Photos by Skye Vander Laan.
Daniel Hoffman ’16 drives during a recent practice. Photos by Skye Vander Laan.

As the fairways at the Wine Valley Golf Club continue to thaw out and the sun begins to shine through the tree-lined greens once again at the Walla Walla Country Club, the Whitman golf team continues its hard work in preparation for the upcoming spring season.

With two players back after a fall semester abroad and the rest of the men’s team making progress in every aspect of the game, there is a great sense of optimism about how the season will progress.

“The fall season went well, but I know we are capable of a better spring. We have all been working hard and I think we are all in the right mindset to play really well,” said Scott Martin, a sophomore who had Whitman’s best 2012 NWC Championships play with scores of 76 and 78.

Both the men and women had impressive performances in the Northwest Conference Fall Classic, the only fall competition counting toward the conference finals later this fall. The men’s team was able to rebound from a disappointing first round on Saturday and improve by a total of 27 strokes and tie for fourth place¬†overall. The Whitman women were able to hold on for a second-place finish, putting them within reach of the leading George Fox University team and an automatic berth in the national tournament. In an admittedly average performance across the board, the women’s team is confident they can improve and perform at a much higher level.

Daniel Hoffman '16, Scott Martin '15, and Jefferson Liu '16 walk to the tee box.
Daniel Hoffman ’16, Scott Martin ’15 and Jefferson Liu ’16 walk to the tee box.

“Our finish in the Fall Classic has motivated us because we know we are capable of playing better than we did, and we are ready to go out in the spring and prove that,” said senior captain Tate Head.

With three seniors and three juniors leading only two underclassmen into play, the emphasis for the women has been on refining individual skills through a strong team mentality breeding healthy competition within the squad. Sophomore Kelly Sweeney and junior Catelyn Webber teamed up to provide key performances, leading the women with a big round on the Sunday of the Fall Classic. Sweeney finished in fifth place overall and Webber ended in eighth in a field of 38.

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“I think with any underclassmen on a team, it puts pressure on the older teammates to keep their standing on the roster. It pushes us all to be competitive with each other,” said Sweeney, referring to how her performance helps other players improve.

The team is constantly competing on the course, but remains close despite the individual focus of the sport.

“The fact that as a team we are so close on and off the course will provide dividends in the spring,” noted junior Elaine Whaley. “We really want each other to play well.”

A supportive setting on the relatively young men’s team has been important in helping the younger players succeed and improve as much as possible. With talent at every level, there is tons of potential for big rounds throughout the year from any player on any day.

“We have the talent to start winning tournaments on a regular basis. Overall, the team is extremely young, and with each round we will only get better,” first-year Daniel Hoffman said.

Hoffman has been working hard and trying to glean as much as possible from his older teammates.

“I hope to learn from them. The last couple of weeks we have been practicing six days a week until dark,”¬†Hoffman said.

When asked about the goals for the men’s team this season, junior Andrew Welch put it simply.

“We’re just trying to get it in the hole in as few tries as we can,” said Welch.

Scott Martin '15 tees off.
Scott Martin ’15 tees off.