The Guilfordian

Men’s Golf

The Quakers’ golf team lived up to their high standard in their historic 2017 campaign. They captured a league record 16th Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championship April 25.

Guilford started ranked 19th in this season’s first Bushnell/Golfweek Division III Coaches’ Poll. Guilford ended the year ranked 17th and now have the ODAC crown to add to their resume going into the national championship.

In demonstration of their dominance in the conference, two Guilford golfers, Josh Hill and Kell Graham, tied for the first-place individual spot. In a one-hole playoff, Hill bested his teammate for the crown. Hill, along with teammate Zach Evens, earned first-team all ODAC recognition.

To say the least, the Quakers’ season was a success, but the road to the top was not entirely smooth. Guilford finished in the middle of the pack at the Jekyll Island Intercollegiate, which was a big opportunity for them to showcase why they should be considered a top team in the nation. As a team, they finished in 17th place out of 29. Hill had the team’s best individual finish at 26th, thanks in part to an at-par finish in the second round of the match.

But the strength of the team lies within their unity. Naturally, any other team that experiences a slump like this would roll over, not rising back to the top as Guilford’s men did. Especially when they had such lofty expectations at the beginning of the year.

But the Quakers’ unity helped them prevail to strong individual finishes. See, golf is tricky sport in that a team’s score depends on the individual outcomes of each team member, where a golfer cannot physically assist a teammate during the game. In basketball, a player can lob a pass in the air to a teammate who finishes with a dunk in an alley-oop. In baseball, the shortstop needs to toss a pass from in between second and third base to the first baseman to get a groundout. But for golf, it’s not like they take turns hitting the same ball, it is up to each individual player to play their round themselves.

That is the piece that makes the team aspect of golf tricky. But the chemistry the team has off the course carries on it. The two first-year golfers on the team are roommates, four golfers room together on campus and another pair live together off campus. They are with each other interacting almost each and every day, which is huge for the team’s chemistry. They understand each other beyond just golf, but as regular people as well.

The numbers attest to this. After slumping more in the Division III Match Play Invitational April 2-3 (finishing sixth out of eight teams) and the Emory Spring Invitational April 13 (10th out of 15 teams), the Quakers’ turned things around completely in less than two weeks. So much that it gave them the ODAC Crown.

All five Guilford golfers in the tournament finished in the top 10 individually. Hill and Graham had superb second rounds, which separated them some from the pack, both hitting below par. As a team, they separated themselves by 24 strokes from second place Washington and Lee University.

As stated early, Hill and Evens were named to the All-ODAC first team unit, and senior Kendall Dunn was named to the third-team unit. Dunn placed second individually in Guilford’s three team match in Winter Haven, Florida with Hope College and Luther College March 22.

The team preps for the NCAA Championships next week, where they look to ride the momentum of the ODAC Tournament and not fall back into the slump they had mid-season.