Senior Ryan Zetwick eyes a shot in the Music City Invite last weekend. Courtesy | Hillsdale College Ath­letics

The Hillsdale College golf team com­pleted a suc­cessful fall season on Tuesday with a second-place finish at the Music City Invi­ta­tional in Her­mitage, Ten­nessee.

Seven teams com­peted in the tour­nament, four of which were G‑MAC members. The Uni­versity of Southern Indiana won with 564 points and Hillsdale fin­ished with 570, edging out Trevecca Nazarene by one point. Other G‑MAC schools in atten­dance included Ohio Dominican Uni­versity and Ken­tucky Wes­leyan Uni­versity, who fin­ished sixth and seventh, respec­tively. 

Despite the can­ce­lation of many other college sports across the country, golf has been all but immune to any schedule changes due to restric­tions sur­rounding the COVID-19 pan­demic. All of the golf ath­letes retain their class status from last year due to the NCAA eli­gi­bility ruling on spring sports ath­letes affected by COVID-19.

Senior Ryan Zetwick and freshman Gerry Jones, Jr. led the way for the Chargers as they shot three under par to tie for fifth overall in the tour­nament. Sophomore Josh Dav­enport tied for 11th, shooting one under par.

After a less than sat­is­factory season last fall, the Chargers had high expec­ta­tions entering this year under new head coach Matt Thompson. He has brought with him a new coaching style which the players have responded well to.

“He’s def­i­nitely brought a lot more structure, as far as saying that we can compete in these tour­na­ments and actually win them,” freshman Darragh Mon­aghan said. “The prac­tices seem very effi­cient and it’s making us a lot better. I think we’ve made serious strides this year.”

Jones agreed with Mon­aghan, praising his new head coach.

“He’s had us focus on where we indi­vid­ually lose strokes in the tour­na­ments, which affects the team overall,” Jones said. “He’s a great guy from a per­son­ality stand­point. He’ll com­pliment you when you do things well, but he’ll also get on you if he thinks you can be doing better.”

This new coaching style, and the team’s hard work, has paid div­i­dends, as the team has found success in the first half of the 2020 – 21 season. In their first three tour­na­ments this fall, the Chargers fin­ished third, third, and second respec­tively. This improves upon last year’s fall season when the Chargers typ­i­cally fin­ished around ninth place in their tour­naments.

“Everybody worked hard over the off season, and it seems like we all took a step forward with our games,” freshman Andrew Smith said. “This team has a ton of talent, and it seems like we’re starting to tap into it this year.”

The team has had an important change in their thought process, which has con­tributed to their progress.

“Every tour­nament we go to, our goal is to win,” Jones said. “Obvi­ously, that’s not going to happen every single time, but if you have that kind of men­tality and energy going in, you’ll play a bit better, and you’ll finish a bit higher. That was reflected in our fin­ishes this season.”

Tuesday marked the last day of com­pe­tition for the team, as they fin­ished strong, securing an impressive second place finish. Jones played par­tic­u­larly well, fin­ishing in the top five among indi­vidual com­petitors.

“I’m happy with how I played, espe­cially in the second round,” Jones Jr. said. “Every­thing seemed to come together with every part of my game.”

The Chargers per­for­mance in their final tour­nament, as well as their growth throughout the season, sets them up well for their spring season.

“I’m very pleased with our per­for­mance this season, and it only makes me more excited for the spring knowing that we have what it takes to contend week in and week out,” Jones said. “We had top three fin­ishes in all of our events, so I believe it’s only a matter of time before we get a win.”

Now the Chargers will train for the spring season. 

“I look forward to preparing for the spring both phys­i­cally and men­tally to hit the ground running,” Jones said.