Purslowe 2
Liam Purslow rolls in a putt during a tour­nament last year. (Photo: Anders Kiledal / Hillsdale Col­legian)

After nar­rowly missing a regional bid last season, the Hillsdale men’s golf team is already setting their sights on this year’s regional and national tour­na­ments.

The golf team is returning a dozen players after grad­u­ating just one senior, Pat Nalepa. The Chargers’ returning squad includes six sopho­mores and six juniors, but lacks a senior class.

“We’re sad to lose a great teammate and leader,” head coach Nate Gilchrist said of Nalepa. “He was a leader on the golf course and in the classroom, and a great example for the under­classmen.”

Sopho­mores Pietila and Purslowe will serve as cap­tains this season.

“They were the leaders last year on the golf course con­sis­tently and I expect the same of them,” Gilchrist said.

The team has no seniors, but Gilchrist said he believes the juniors and the team cap­tains will step into lead­ership roles.

Three new players will join the team this fall: George Roberts of Hamp­shire, England,  Ryan Zetwick of Castle Rock, Col­orado, and Sutton Dun­woodie of Alpharetta, Georgia.

“We gained three good players that should be able to add to the team,” Hitt said. “We prac­ticed with Ryan, and he’s got a good swing and can shoot some good scores. He should be a good asset for us.”

Hitt added that Roberts and Dun­woodie are also tal­ented players, who will add depth to the team.

The squad cur­rently has 15 players, but the varsity roster must be nar­rowed to 12 for com­pe­tition. A 72-hole qual­ifier — played on Sept. 5 through 9 — will determine the dozen players who make the cut.

Gilchrist said the team has depth and strong players from top to bottom. He said he believes the freshmen will chal­lenge the upper­classmen and create a com­pet­itive envi­ronment.

Those who don’t make it on the varsity team will still have the oppor­tunity to practice, improve, and attempt to qualify in the future.

Logan Kauffman said the qual­ifier is a good chance to see who has improved over the summer and to gauge the skill of the freshmen. He said he prac­ticed six days a week, played 18 holes most days, and played 36 holes once a week in order to get in shape for this season.

Once the roster is finalized, five players will travel for tour­na­ments. This five-member lineup will change throughout the year.

Kauffman said he traveled to tour­na­ments last season, but some­times missed the cut to compete.

“The team is deep, so there are people to take spots,” Kauffman said. “At times it’s def­i­nitely not fun to stay home, but it’s nice to have those guys that can take your place.”

As a team, Gilchrist said he hopes they can average 295 as a team and take home a few tour­nament vic­tories. He said last year the squad averaged around 298 — a score that is often not low enough to claim the top spot at a tour­nament.

Hitt dis­cussed his indi­vidual goals: “I had a strong fall last year, and I’d like to repeat that and improve on it at the same time. I want to con­sis­tently play well. It’s golf — you’re not going to play well everyday, but I want to be happy with the way I’m swinging the club.”

The team will practice at Cold­water Golf Course, Hillsdale Golf and Country Club, and Bella Vista.

The Chargers will play their first tour­nament on Sept. 17 and 18.