For the first time in the Hillsdale College golf team’s three-year history, the varsity team had to make cuts.
The golf team played a 72-hole qualifier last week to determine the 12 players who would travel to tournaments. The roster at the beginning of this year consisted of 15 players, meaning three Chargers were placed on a practice-only squad for the year.
“All of the guys responded very well to the challenge, and they knew that this was going to happen when they left last spring,” head coach Nate Gilchrist said. “They had all summer to prepare and get ready for this.”
After the qualifier, the traveling golf squad this year includes: freshmen George Roberts, Sutton Dunwoodie, and Ryan Zetwick; sophomores Joel Pietila, Liam Purslowe, Henry Hitt, Peter Beneteau, and Andrew Grayson; juniors Logan Kauffman, John Burke, Steve Sartore, and Joe Torres.
Sophomore Joel Pietila took first in the qualifier with an even par score of 288. Pietila, along with Purslowe, Hitt, Beneteau and Kauffman took the top five spots.
Pietila shot 66, a course and personal record, at Bella Vista Golf Course on Thursday during the qualifier.
“It was the easiest round of golf I’ve ever played. I hit fairways, greens, and made the putts I needed to make,” Pietila said.
Pietila had a clean scorecard that day — he did not make a single bogey. He had three birdies on the front nine and three on the back nine. With the qualifier behind them, Pietila said he and his teammates feel optimistic going into next weekend’s tournament.
“We’ve improved a ton over the summer, and this year we have ability and the confidence to go out and win tournaments,” Pietila said.
The top five Chargers will play in the team’s first tournament this weekend, the GLIAC North Invitational, at Hawkshead Links in South Haven, Michigan.
“These four days were a great preparation leading into our tournament this weekend,” Gilchrist said.
Gilchrist said he thinks the team has a real shot at a first place finish. Last year, the Chargers tied for 6th place at the invitational.
Meanwhile, the Chargers who finished in spots six through 10 will compete in a secondary tournament in Jackson, Michigan.
Freshman George Roberts placed sixth in the qualifier and scored 305. In his first college golf tournament, Roberts will lead his team into the Irish Hills Intercollegiate at the Grande Golf Club.
“I think I’m going to enjoy the pressure, but I’ll be nervous taking the team into my first tournament,” Roberts said.
Roberts said he hopes to help take home a win for the team and place in the top five individually.
Sophomore Grayson and juniors Burke, Sartore, and Torres will play alongside him.
Dunwoodie and Zetwick, based on their finishes in the qualifier, will not travel with the team next weekend but will have the opportunity to play in later tournaments.