By Nelson Hubbell
The Grand Rapids Community College Raiders men’s golf team placed fifth in the Ron Marshall Spring Fling on Monday, March 7 without one of their top three players, Logan Templeton, who is no longer with the team.
The tournament was located in Scottsboro, Alabama. John A. Logan College won the tournament as the first place finisher with a total score of 909, only six strokes ahead of second place Snead State Community College.
GRCC finished fifth in a stacked middle where the third (964), fourth (965), and fifth places (GRCC at 968) were four strokes apart.
Freshman Connor Oman stepped into the top three role left unoccupied by Templeton. Oman finished third on the team and tied for twenty-third in the entire tournament, shooting 31 over par. Redshirt-freshman Arie Jackman led the way tied for seventh place with only seven strokes behind first place, finishing with a score of 231 which was 15 over par. Redshirt-freshman Matt DenHartigh had a nice showing as he tied for 11th, shooting 19 over par.
Freshman golfers Sam Foss (tied at 29th) and Bradley VandenHout (tied at 31st) will be asked to step up even more than before as they now round out the five-man rotation.
The first place golfers were Tanner Walton and Andrew Watson of John A. Logan College of Carterville, Illinois, which is located near the southern tip of the state. Walton and Watson both shot 224 at 8 over par. Peyton Thevenot, teammates of the two, tied for third with a score of 228 at 12 over par.
In a previous interview with the Collegiate, Coach Forton had mentioned Oman’s potential to “shoot some really good scores” along with a challenge to step up his game. Oftentimes with young golfers the talent is evident, but the consistency isn’t there. Now it’s go time for Oman, who will be even more heavily relied upon.
“I think keeping a positive attitude and encouraging my teammates is one way I’ll step up,” Oman said. “I believe that everyone on the team will do their part, and especially our coach (Forton). He’s kept a great attitude despite this rough patch that we’re going through, and I know he believes in us.”
The positivity and mental strength are just the mental aspects of what Oman is trying to bring to the table. Oman has been practicing putting on a green in his basement, but he and the rest of the team use The Golf Emporium during the colder times of year.
“I know that we as a team are very thankful to have The Golf Emporium as a resource for us to practice at.”Oman said. “Putting to me is the most important part of golf because you can hit all the good shots, but if you can’t get the ball in the hole it becomes a harder game than it already is.”
There was a theme of positivity among Oman, Jackman, and DenHartigh in Collegiate interviews with each of them. This is a hardworking group that is sticking together through the adversity of losing a key contributor.
“As long as everyone just keeps their head down and just pushes each other each and every day, I don’t see why we can’t win the conference again and hopefully make it to nationals again,” Jackman said. “You know, on our trip down to Alabama, I saw a ton of potential out of all three of those freshmen. I’m looking forward to seeing how they grow over the next couple of months.”
The Raiders continue to compete in southern tournaments against teams that have mostly been playing throughout the winter. Their next competition begins on March 25 at the Heritage Hill Collegiate in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The weekend tournament is expected to finish on Sunday, March 27.