BY MORGAN KING – STAFF WRITER
The Centre Men’s and Women’s Golf team began their spring season in good spirits despite weather and injury setbacks. Both the Men’s and Women’s team finished off strong in the fall and hope to build of past success as they work their way through the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) conference.
The defending SAA conference champion Men’s team ended their fall season ranked fifteenth in Division III standings, finishing in the top five in all five of their tournaments in the fall. They began their spring schedule in Calloway Gardens, GA. on Feb. 28 – Mar. 1 finishing seventh out of 19 teams, a good start in spring play. First-year Andrew McKinney shot a round of 73 on the last day of the tournament and was Centre’s low scorer with a two-day score of 148.
The Women’s team ended their fall season ranked 22nd in Division III with senior Shelby Grant ranking first in the nation for fairways hits. The team started their spring season in Lake Wales, Flo. for the Start 2 Finish tournament and brought home third place as the only Division III team on the greens. The low tournament round for Centre came from first-year Jill Edington who entered as an individual and achieved a two-day score of 173 for sixth place overall.
Despite the successful fall season, both teams faced an interesting start to the spring season. The snowy weather proved a forceful contender by hindering the team from practicing on the grass. Despite the weather, the team continues to be dedicated to play in any weather. They are practicing in their facility in Sutcliffe Hall as well as traveling to Man of War Golf in Lexington, KY to focus on their drives.
“It has been the most unusual year I have ever had because we just have never had this weather so far going into [the remainder of the season],” Director of Golf and head coach for both the men and women Bruce Brown said. “I feel like we have prepared the best that we can for what we have had to deal with in this weather. We have taken advantage of those facilities, but we have not been hitting off real grass. It’s going to be interesting. I’m proud of both teams.”
Senior women’s golf co-captain Michaela Manley has high hopes for this coming week. “I’m excited to see what we can do throughout the rest of the season. We’re going to have to work extra hard though since the weather has not been conducive to us playing/practicing outside,” Manley said.
The team recently returned from a crucial tournament in Jekylll Island, GA. While the men struggled trying to place in the top 10, the women tied for 8th out of 19 teams with a combined score of 323. Senior Alyssa Brown led the team with her final round score of 75 on Sunday and finished the tournament with 10th place overall.
The Women’s team, however, entered the tournament without one of their own. After suffering a skiing injury over winter break, Senior Shelby Grant will miss the remainder of the season. She is however expected to make a full recovery and continues to serve as co-captain of the team.
“I think the biggest loss we have had is injury of senior captain Shelby Grant. We miss her greatly. She, being a captain and a leader, brought so much to the table. Right now, I think we are back on our feet and pretty sound,” Brown said.
The quick bounce back from these obstacles, according to Brown, is because of the team’s biggest strength. Both the Men’s and Women’s team chemistry is one of their biggest strengths and the drive they have to achieve the SAA conference championship is evident in their practices and their play.
“I believe the highlight for this season thus far for me is the cohesiveness of these teams and how well they work together. We set goals early in the season and these teams will not let anything get in their way,” Brown said.
Despite some struggles along the way, both teams have a lot to be proud of thus far in their season, and much to look forward to in the coming months.
“I’ve been very proud of my captains this year. Grant Blevins has done an amazing job on the men’s side, and Michaela Manley on the woman’s side,” Brown said. I really adhere to this motto: ‘A team that is coach driven is good, but a team that is player driven is great.’ And that is what I have with these kids.”