By: Dan Durkin – Staff Writer
The University of Dayton men’s golf team finds themselves in the full swing of the season, already having one event underneath their belts and preparing for the Louisville Cardinal Intercollegiate Invitational Monday and Tuesday.
After coming off a slow start to the season, the team has been preparing the last two weeks for the event in Louisville, Kentucky.
“The team has shown a lot of progress the last two weeks, and they have been looking a lot better,” head coach Gip Hoagland said.
The Flyers finished 12th and 13th of 16 teams on day one and day two, respectively, at the Joe Feaganes Marshall Invitational Sept. 8-9.
Sophomore Nick Paxson and freshman Erron Vandemore have led the Flyers thus far. Both golfers shot 220 over 54 holes including a team best round of 69 from Paxson.
Five of the 12 players on the men’s golf roster will participate.
“Each event usually lasts two days,” Hoagland said. “We get there a day early to get a practice round in, and the first day of the event we’ll play 36 holes. Then the following day we’ll play 18 holes.”
To prepare, a normal practice revolves around a lot of short game and putting.
“In college golf, that’s everything,” Hoagland said.
Adjusting to surroundings is the other. Hoagland mentioned that sometimes the team will just go out and play nine holes to get a feel for a course.
Hoagland emphasizes the use of certain clubs forcing his athletes to shoot shots with different clubs. His message is to try to get them to be creative and focus on things other than just the swing.
Staying fresh, when embarking on 54 holes in two days, can be a cause for concern. But senior captain Craig Purpus has experienced it for four years.
“We play about 10 hours a golf the first day of the tournament, then another four plus hours the next day, and that’s excluding a practice round that might also take a couple of hours,” Purpus said. “Making sure that you are fresh, well-rested and ready to play is the key.”
Golf, seen primarily as an individualized sport with no teamwork required, has completely different terms on the collegiate level.
“When I’m out on the course I fight because you never know when your team is going to need you,” Purpus said. “When you’re out on the course it is an individual sport, but you’re also grinding out there to help benefit your team.”
“You’re only as good as your number five guy,” Hoagland added. “If one guy goes out and shoots a 67, but your number four and five guys go out and shoot 78 and 79, the team itself suffers. You have to know your role.”
The camaraderie of the group stands strong with such a tight-knit crew. Their closeness is unfettered and they use it to their advantage as much as possible.
“I think that the people that have been around us would know this, but the one thing is that we are an extremely close bunch,” Purpus said. “All 12 of us are very good friends, we hang out all the time and that contributes a lot to us being a successful team, and having good chemistry.”
The Flyers will use all of their advantages in Louisville before heading to Traditions Golf Club in Hebron, Kentucky, for the Cincinnati Bearcat Invitational Oct. 6-7.