The Bradley men’s golf team delivered a number of top-10 and top-five finishes last year, including a fourth place finish in the MVC Championships. Many of their players performed well individually to either tie, break or set school records.
However, even with multiple records broken, the Braves were still short on wins and were not satisfied with their overall performance as a team. As they look to bounce back and have a more impactful season, they hope to get results that will show that Bradley golf is back and better than ever.
“The offseason was filled with individual events and it’s time to work on what you need to work on from last year,” fifth-year senior John Stillman said. “I played with some of the players this summer and got to build connections with them and got to grow as a team.”
This year’s team looks a little bit different. There are three incoming freshmen, a transfer and two seniors returning for their last year. With COVID eligibility allowing him one more year on the Hilltop, Stillman looks to capitalize on his final season as a Brave.
“It was a no-brainer,” Stillman said. “I had been blessed with four years on the team and a fifth is one that I don’t take for granted.”
Making a fifth year return alongside Stillman is Nick Armburst. The Wheaton, Illinois native only played in four out of 11 tournaments with a stroke average of 81.08 last year, but head coach Jeff Roche thinks both he and Stillman have embraced their veteran positions.
“Nick has gone through some injuries and wanted to have a healthy year,” Roche said. “Their first two years they had only a fall season and a spring season and John and Nick had to grow and learn on their own and have really stepped up in the leadership roles.”
After a great first season in Peoria, sophomore Conner Hamm looks to replicate his early success. Placing as high as 15th last season at the Gulf Coast Collegiate, Hamm will try to make headlines again.
“[Hamm] handles himself like a professional, and we all expect great things from him this year,” Stillman said. “[He’s] a key part of the team, and he really has grown as an individual.”
This team is hardworking and hungry and everyone wants to be the best they can be. Mentality is one of the defining traits that Roche wants to implement in the team to keep his boys hungry.
“When they are in the heat of the battle, it’s up to them to decide how they respond to the competition and if they are willing to work on their skills and how that will make the team better,” Roche said.
With three seniors departing from last season, the mature Bradley side became a lot fresher, making it a lot harder to reach those same expectations. Bringing in a freshmen trio of Brody McCarthy, Devin Reichard and Carter Stevenson should help their chances.
“They all performed well with school records, and this year as the group grows we want the team to do better in producing more wins and finishing a lot better as a team and potentially returning back to the NCAA tournament,” Roche said.
Not only did the team bring in freshmen, but also a transfer from Alabama State. The Haywards Heath, England native Max Adams comes in as a sophomore after capturing two individual titles at Alabama State. Before beginning his collegiate career, Adams was a U18 European champion.
With their season just underway, the Braves know the importance of letting the little things go and looking towards the future.
“You are going to see very hard working guys and we are going to be fighting for every stroke and trying to get better everyday,” Stillman said. “One of the beauties of this season is that this team is going to be one to watch and there are going to be a lot of big things happening this season.”