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.