The Grand Rapids Community College golf team’s fall season got underway over the weekend, and the team had a great showing in both matches.
The season started on Friday, Sept. 14 when the team traveled to Port Huron, Michigan to play in the Sam Kromer Invitational at Port Huron Elks Golf Club. The Raiders finished in second place just five strokes behind the Mott Community College Bears. GRCC shot 323 as a team which was 35 over par. GRCC sophomore Ryan Skislak was the top performer for the Raiders and finished in a tie for fifth place shooting a 78 which was six over par.
GRCC golf Head Coach John Forton was pleased with his team’s overall performance, but knows it could have been better because of the team’s unfamiliarity with the course.
“We struggled a little bit,” Forton said. “Some of the unfamiliar aspects of the course that the younger players weren’t aware of — it was a little bit tougher than we anticipated. So we finished in second place there to Mott…we shot 323. That’ll be the highest score we shoot all year until we go to Whistling Straits (Wisconsin).”
The team’s second place finish out of eight schools in the Sam Kromer Invitational seemed to be a building block for the Raiders as they went into their match on Sunday. The Raiders played in the Muskegon Community College Fall Invitational yesterday at the Moss Ridge Golf Club in Ravenna, Michigan.
The Raiders had six of their golfers finish in the top seven spots of this MCCAA conference invitational. GRCC Freshman Cooper Bell finished first overall in the tournament and was the only golfer to finish under par. Cooper’s 67 was five under par and was five strokes better than the second place finishers who were even on the day which included Skislak who shot a 72.
“We bounced back yesterday shooting a 290, which is only two over par,” Forton said. “We finished 27 shots ahead of Muskegon and also Jackson. We had a tournament medalist with Cooper Bell who shot an incredible 67…out of the eight players, we had seven of them in the 70’s, which that makes us very competitive.”
The Raiders were indeed very competitive, with their 290 score giving them the tournament win. There were five teams in the tournament and the other four teams weren’t even close to GRCC in the final scores. The Raiders finished 27 strokes better than the second place teams, and 34 strokes better than Kirtland Community College who finished last in the tournament.
Going forward, Forton knows his team can be working on aspects of their game that will help them be competitive in the spring when the season really picks up.
“Well they all being collegiate players, they all have things — our practices really aren’t structured on ‘we’re going to do this, this and this,’” Forton said. “They can all break down their rounds and depending from player to player, they can determine what they need to work on. Some of them obviously need to work on putting, chipping, hitting the greens with their irons, driving the ball. There’s different things with each player, but as a group, I really like this group coming together…it’s going to be a pretty good season for us this fall, but I’m really looking forward to the spring when we start to make our run to the national championship.”
Forton explained the purpose of the fall season and how the team stays sharp over the winter months to be ready for the spring season.
“I call the fall kind of the silly season because we really don’t play for anything,” Forton said. “The reason being, we just play in tournaments and kind of get the team set for the spring and see where people are at and what they need to work on. Throughout the winter, we do hit balls at simulators and heated driving ranges…there’s more emphasis put on the spring than there is the fall because the fall is — we’re not playing to play in anything, we’re just competing. And then the spring, we start to work towards a national championship at the end of May.”
The team’s next match comes Friday, Sept. 21 when they’ll travel to Summit Township, Michigan to play in a tournament hosted by the Jackson Community College Jets. The time of the tournament is still yet to be determined.