Fresh off a first place finish in the Ancilla College Invitational, the Grand Rapids Community College golf team finished in fourth place over the weekend in the Shootout at Stonehedge Invite in Battle Creek, Michigan.
The Raiders were the only junior college out of eight schools to compete in the tournament. The first day of the tournament, head coach John Forton wasn’t pleased with the team’s score of 326. He talked to them and challenged them to catch the team in front of them the next day.
“We came into this weekend on a very cold and blustery day, winds gusting over 40 miles per hour on a short, narrow course,” Forton said. “We didn’t do so well… so the next day, I got them together for dinner and said, ‘You know my goal is, we’re five behind Aquinas. We want to catch Aquinas today and play much better.’”
The Raiders responded to Forton’s call to action as the next round they shaved 20 strokes off their previous score, shooting a 306. Not only did the Raiders make massive strides the next day, they accomplished their goal of catching Aquinas as both teams finished tied for fourth place with an overall score of 632 (56 over par).
Forton is hoping his team can continue their trajectory as they’re slotted for another tournament this coming weekend. To do that, he said they’ll need to get plenty of practice rounds. The problem, however, is the weather hasn’t been cooperating very well. With the snow from Sunday melting and rain in the forecast pretty much everyday this week, outdoor golf may be out of the question.
Forton addressed what the team’s plan will be if they can’t get outside this week due to inclement weather.
“We always have the Emporium (an indoor golf facility),” Forton said. “It’s weather dependent, we really can’t get out to Egypt Valley unless the weather cooperates. We can hit at the Emporium, but there’s nothing like playing holes, and getting out and hitting off grass instead of hitting off mats, so we’ll see what happens.”
Even without having what Forton would describe as enough outdoor practice, the Raiders managed to have two golfers finish in the top 20 in Battle Creek. Freshman Cooper Bell shot an 82 on day one and a 73 on day two, for a total of 155 (11 over par) placing him 12th in the tournament.
Logan Holtkamp was right behind Bell finishing with a score of 157. His 13 over par finish came via a 79 on day one and a 78 on day two. Sophomore Nicholas Ward finished just outside the top 20 with a score of 161 (17 over par).
Forton hopes to continue seeing improvement from his team, but he and the team are remaining focused on their main goal which comes next month.
“We’re getting better,” Forton said. “We keep focusing on getting ready for May which is our state, regional and national run. I’m kind of excited where we’re going to go, where we’ve been and hopefully in the near future we can play just a bit better.”
The Raiders next tournament, weather permitting, will be played on Friday, April 19 when they visit Summit Township, Michigan for the Jackson College Invite. Tee times have yet to be determined.