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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Golf begins spring season

The Grinnell Men’s Golf team has reason to be optimistic about the season as they draw near the start of the spring season. With four of six starters returning from last year’s team, the Pioneers believe that a Midwest Conference (MWC) Championship is within reach.

“The focal point of the upcoming season is winning conference, hands down—without a doubt,” said team co-captain Carlos Lu ’10. “And winning conference means you go to Nationals…that’s what we want.”

Head Coach Brian Jaworski felt last year’s MWC tournament demonstrated to him that a conference championship is a feasible target.

“Our goal is to win the Midwest Conference Championship,” Jaworski said. “This team has been very competitive the last two years at the Midwest Conference Championship meet and we finished 10 strokes out of first place at last year’s tournament, over the course of three days…that’s not that many strokes.”

Coach Jaworksi explained how the team’s struggle in last year’s conference tournament derived from the fact that the team played poorly on the first day of the event. The team overcame a 16-stroke deficit after day one of the tournament to tie for fourth. On the last two days of the three-day event, Grinnell actually had the lowest two-round score. 

 “There wasn’t [much] synergy between teammates last year,” Jaworksi said. “We as a team, when we meet at the start of second semester [this year], we had a heart to heart. We identified our greatest weakness, and turned it into one of our greatest strengths. Last year, there just was not as much camaraderie as there could have been.”

Lu cited similar reasons for the team’s shortcomings last year.  Both Lu and Jaworski emphasized that the team wants to move away from the notion of golf is an individual sport, because, for the Grinnell Men’s Golf team, it is not.

“This year we are trying to steer the team into a direction of more team camaraderie than year’s past,” Lu said. “I feel like the golf team in years past has been this group of semi-random guys. We’re definitely trying to build more team unity and team-bonding than in years past.”

Team co-captain Pete Kieselbach ’10, stressed that changes in the team’s training regimen pulled the team members closer.

“We’ve started weight-lifting this year, as a team, on consistent basis,” Kieselbach said. “But probably the biggest thing is that an outdoor driving range opened up in Newton, only 20 minutes away.”

The driving range that Kieselbach is referring to is the Fore Seasons golf complex that features a dome so that Grinnell Students can regularly hit a ball and see its flight, crucial to fine-tuning a golf swing. For the first time in the team’s history, the Pioneers were able to practice in an outdoor practice facility for the winter. In addition to a driving range, the facility also has turf greens to practice putting.

Despite the newfound camaraderie and the newly built training facilities, the team expects tough conference competition.

“Last year Monmouth won conference and they returned a great majority of their roster and I think, per that, you have to say that they are the favorites in the conference,” Kieselbach said.

However, for now, the Pioneers will focus on what they can control—their commitment and preparation.

“You can’t control winning and losing in sports, and certainly not at the Division III level,” Jaworski said. “The only thing you can control is the experience that we have together.”

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