Sports / The Prairie Fire / May 17, 2017

Golf closes with promise ahead

Just two years ago, the Men’s Golf team was made up of just one player. With six players who are all returning next year in addition to the nine possible recruits coming into Knox next year, the Knox Men’s Golf team is trending upwards. (Photo courtesy of Kenneth Harding)

With just six players on the Men’s Golf team, it may be surprising to hear that the team is at the beginning stages of a great resurgence.

Finishing with a total score of 1024 after playing in the Midwest Conference Championship Tournament earlier this month capped off a competitive season.

The team will also not lose any players to graduation this year and with an incoming class of seven recruits coming to campus in the fall, the team will undoubtedly have a different atmosphere than the one that exists right now.

The size of the incoming class has even spurred whispers amongst the players of perhaps having an A and B team.

Current golfers are feeling the excitement.

“Sounds like we’ll have a whole lot of competitive golf and I think that, for me at least, the goal next year is to win conference from the start,” sophomore Jordan Anderson said.

Reflecting on the season that just came to a close, Anderson knows that the team could have performed better on Thursday, but the team rebounded for the rest of the tournament.

“We bounced back on Friday and Saturday thanks to some guys having the best round of their season.”

The team saw their potential earlier this season when they won a match against Spalding University on March 6, a surprising victory over a strong program.

However, the team then hosted the Prairie Fire Classic on March 31 to April 1 and did not perform as expected, struggling to place golfers near the top.

Sophomore Duncan Wheeler thinks that the team has become much closer this year compared to last year, which he says will help the team’s development in the long run.

“All the road trips we took and hotel rooms we shared forced us to spend a lot of quality time together and obviously we’re only gonna grow closer and play better as a team because of it. Some of us didn’t get along at the beginning of the season but now I’d say we’re all buds,” Wheeler said.

For Wheeler, the incoming class of freshmen has prompted him to budget for more practice time this summer, as he has quickly become aware of the fact that he only has “two years of eligibility left and that’s not a lot of time.”

Junior Patrick Martin, one of only two upperclassmen on the team, has seen the Men’s Golf program improve by leaps and bounds since he arrived at Knox.

“When I came to Knox I was the only player on the team and to see a class of seven come in is great. Hopefully they will help us compete for a Conference Championship next season,” Martin said.

Though the season has been difficult, the team was able to hone their skills in all types of weather, which Martin thinks will serve them well in the future.

“We were always in wind, rain or both so we were well prepared for any conditions at the conference tournament,” Martin said.

Coach Kenneth Harding understands the circumstances of his position as the leader of a program trying to make a long-overdue comeback.

“As we are all aware the golf program has been down for the past 10 years and that was one of the many reasons why Knox made a commitment to hiring a full-time coach in hopes to bring the program back to where it once was,” Harding said.

Harding also thinks playing at Knox is a unique experience.

“This past Homecoming, I had an alum offer us the opportunity to come and spend the week preparing at a course that they are partial owners of. Not many colleges are able to have such opportunities to offer to their golf program and we are forever thankful for the individuals that make things like this possible,” he said.

Harding also used this story as an opportunity to announce that the future is brighter than even his own players knew.

“I am excited to announce that our recruiting class of what I once thought was seven could end up being nine,” Harding said, confident that this recruiting class will help the program take its next step forward.

With flashes of brilliance throughout the season, a full returning squad and the possibility of up to nine new freshmen participants next year, the Men’s Golf team seems to be trending upwards again for the first time in while at Knox.

 

Tyler Price

Tags:  duncan wheeler jordan anderson kenneth harding knox golf knox men's golf men's golf patrick martin

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