By Nelson Hubbell
Teeing off their season on Monday, March 7, the Grand Rapids Community College Raiders golf team is looking to establish consistency following a somewhat disappointing fall season.
Starting out hot, they finished first place at the Aquinas College Invite in their first game of the season followed by a second place finish. Then the attrition set in with placements of fourth, two canceled matches, first out of two, tied fifth, and finally closing the season out with a fourth place tally at the Heritage Hill Invite. It was a rollercoaster.
“We were kinda all over the board with our personnel,” said GRCC head coach John Forton. “We got down to four in January, so we had to recruit a couple more players. In the fall we played a lot of four year schools in the tournaments, and we were finishing 3rd and 4th, so I was okay with that. It was just kind of a personnel thing where we couldn’t lock in some individuals.”
In the Spring of 2020 GRCC ravaged their schedule and finished in first place at all of their competitions except for Nationals. Forton normally expects those results. The fact that the fall was so inconsistent, and they weren’t winning as much as years past was a major disappointment, but can mainly be attributed to a depleted roster.
“We lost Alex Taylor who could’ve probably been a solid five for us and Davis Courtright who was our one or two in our lineup,” Forton said. Leaving the team relying on some inexperienced talent is not ideal, but Forton really has no choice. That left Forton recruiting in a crunch during the break between the Fall and Spring seasons. The two new additions are freshmen Sam Foss and Bradley Vandenhout.
Right now, the team is just keeping things realistic and taking it one tournament at a time.
“My number one goal is for us to make it to the national championship,” Forton said.“We’re not gonna be as tough as we have been in the past, but hopefully we can get some guys to step up this year.”
Redshirt-freshman Arie Jackman is arguably the team’s most talented golfer. Jackman is expected to help lead the way as a second-year player, but Forton has a solid top three set up with second-year guys.
“Connor Oman, you know, he has potential to shoot some really good scores,” Forton said. “He needs to really step up. Matt Denhartigh, Logan Templeton, and Arie should be our top three. Obviously, we need to be really solid through to five.”
Fortunately for GRCC, they have an opportunity to bounce back this spring as soon as Monday in Scottsboro, Alabama at the Ron Marshall Spring Fling Tourney. The Raiders traveled down to Alabama during spring break this past Wednesday, March 2.
They left early for some team bonding, to enjoy the warm weather, and to get a feel for the course ahead of their first competition of the year.
The tournament will take place on Monday and Tuesday at 10 a.m.