Golf has high hopes for the spring

After three months of rest, the men’s and women’s golf teams will return to the links this February as the spring season gets underway.

The women are coming off a quality fall season where they finished in the top six of every tournament except one. As the team heads into its February and March events, head coach Mary Swanson is employing a patient approach with her players.

“We try to take one day and one event at a time, building confidence as we go along,” Swanson said. “We expect to contend at the [Missouri Valley Conference] Championship in April, but we are focused on small goals every day and will evaluate after every tournament.”

As far as lowest stroke averages go, the women were led by freshman Taylor Ledwein and junior Ally Scaccia. Swanson expects to rely on those two, among others, to lead this team to a strong spring season.

“Our depth is our strength,” Swanson said. “We have [junior] Gracie Henderson back and healthy, and she played every event as a sophomore, so we have more leadership from her and Ally Scaccia, which is great. Our goal is for everyone to gain confidence and feel comfortable after every tournament round.”

The men’s team had an excellent fall as they finished in the top three in all but one event, including first-place finishes in tournaments in Indiana and Iowa and a second-place finish at DePaul.

Head coach Jeff Roche is looking to build and transition that success into the spring season.

“We’ve got a nice core group of guys,” Roche said. “We’re looking to compete as hard as we can every tournament that we play and hopefully put ourselves in contention as we go, with each one of those tournaments obviously building towards the Missouri Valley Conference. Hopefully, [we] peak at that time.”

Junior Ethan Brue and sophomore Drake Bushong, who had three individual titles between the two of them, led the men in the fall. Along with Brue and Bushong, sophomore Branden Mounce and junior Zach Jewell held a spot in the top five throughout the fall season.

Just like the women’s team, Roche believes the men’s team has depth and is expecting plenty of his players to step up and contribute this season.

“We’ve got 12 guys on our team, so with that, it allows [for] a lot of competition,” Roche said. “We’ve got a number of guys who have played a lot of time for us. Bobby Jacobs, Matt Specht, Dan Lensing and Michael Mounce. We’re pretty deep, and we have eight guys going with us on spring break. [I] look forward to those guys and even some of the other guys trying to break in and play some more.”

The women begin their spring play Monday at the Amelia Island Collegiate in Fernandina Beach, Florida. The men start their season the week after on Monday, Feb. 27 at the Colin Montgomerie Houston Baptist Invitational in Houston.