By Sean Chase
On May 10, the Grand Rapids Community College golf team traveled to the Bedford Valley Golf Club in Battle Creek for the Michigan Community College Athletic Association Championship and the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Region XII Championship, winning the two-day event by six strokes, to secure state and regional titles.
“I’m just really proud of our team, honestly,” said Tyler Hausserman, a redshirt-freshman on the GRCC golf team. “We worked really hard all year, even in the offseason, hitting balls all winter. We’re a super tight group, super competitive, just love the game, so I’m just really proud, seeing all our hard work pay off, and seeing it lead us to a state title and regional title.”
Due to COVID-19, the MCCAA and NJCAA Region XII Championships were forced to combine their events into one three-round tournament spanning two days, with the first day consisting of 36 holes of golf.
“It’s tough,” said John Forton, GRCC’s head golf coach, when asked about how the team managed 54 holes in two days. “Not so much today, you know, we had a lead, but 36 holes in one day is a ton of holes. It’s hard to concentrate for eight and half, nine hours out there, but we all kind of ham and egged it and got it together.”
Holding a nice 17-stroke lead going into the final 18 holes of the day, the Raiders stumbled out of the gates as Oakland Community College made a run at the titles.
“Well, it was a tough day out there (Tuesday),” Forton said. “We were actually up by 17, and they came back, Oakland got within six. However, through the conditions, we played pretty well. I thought some of the performers could have played a little bit better at times, but all in all, it was a good team effort, and we just needed to win by one stroke. So we got the job done.”
With OCC hot on the Raiders’ heels, the team’s sixth player stepped up in another role to help the team find their rhythm on the course and seal the wins.
“Matt DenHartigh, he was our sixth man, and unfortunately he didn’t get to play in the event the past couple days, but he was awesome,” Hausserman said. “He played our assistant coach role, and he was really good. He kept in great spirits, really good on the greens, and just keeping people happy and locked in. I genuinely don’t think we would have shot as well had he stayed back. It was really cool for him to be there and help us out.”
Oakland freshman T.J. Hirschfield took home the top spot, with a score of 224 (+8) through 54 holes. Hausserman finished second overall with a score of 227 (+11) and a low score of 73 in the tournament.
“Overall, I was kind of pleased with it,” Hausserman said, when asked about his performance through 54 holes. “I didn’t hit the ball as well as I would have liked in the first two rounds. I didn’t play the back nines very well, I think I was nine over combined on the back nines. I was happy with my performance today, especially because I started out pretty rough again too, I was like 3-over through five holes and made a good stretch of birdies on the back nine to bring it back and shoot a 73. So I was happy how I fought back and kept myself composed.”
The Raiders also received contributions from freshman Davis Courtright, fourth place, with a score of 228 (+12), redshirt-freshman Logan Templeton, sixth place, posting a 229 (+13), redshirt-freshman Dominic Luciani, eighth place, recording a 233 (+17) and freshman Arie Jackman, ninth place, with 235 (+19).
“You look at our four and five, Davis Courtright and Logan Templeton really played well,” Forton said. “They were actually in the last two groups on the last day, so they had a chance to win it. However, they didn’t perform too well on the last day, but they had at least a chance. So they kinda stood out, and spearheaded our first couple rounds to get us that 17-stroke lead going into the last round.”
Next, the Raiders will turn their attention to the NJCAA Division II National Championship tournament starting on May 18 and running through May 21.
“We’ve built some momentum, obviously the weather will be much better, we see it’s gonna be a little wet down there, but at least it will be in the 70s,” Forton said. “I anticipate very tough competition, we have a lot of teams that are ranked in the top 10 in the country. So I’m looking for them to perform and enjoy the, you know a national championship is a national championship, enjoy what’s going on down there. They get treated like kings, and I expect them to do pretty well, because they will be in a relaxed mode.”
With a few days until the four-day, 72-hole tournament begins, the Raiders are focused on tightening their skills ahead of the last event of the year.
“We’re just excited for the opportunity,” Hausserman said. “It’s an exciting time. We have a few days to get more practice in and get locked in. Obviously, we’re gonna enjoy it, but we also want to try and compete and hopefully take home a national championship, that’s the end goal.”