Wolves get The Ocean Course experience

Wolves get The Ocean Course experience
Wednesday, February 18, 2015 | by Chas Goodwin

KIAWAH ISLAND – The Newberry College men’s golf team may not have got the result they wanted over the weekend as they played host to the Inaugural Newberry Invitational at The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, but the memories that were made will last a lifetime.

“The Inaugural Newberry College Invitational at The Ocean Course was a great success,” Newberry College director of golf and head men’s golf coach Howard Vroon said. “Coaches and players from all 18 teams werer treated to a true Ocean Course experience that featured a variety of playing conditions. Strong winds, no wind, east wind, north wind, rain, cold, mild – the playing conditions varied and ranged from difficult to extremely difficult. That is the nature of golf on the shore of the Atlantic in February and, now, everyone in the field has stories about The Ocean Course.”

The Wolves experienced the course for four days as they practiced at the course on Saturday and Sunday before playing three rounds over the course of Monday and Tuesday. The goal was to get in two complete rounds, 36 holes, in by the end of the day on Monday but darkness set in before the players could complete their rounds. Monday served as windy and cold, but the rain came on Tuesday as the players completed their second and started their third. The rain gave way to miserably cold temperatures and winds with gusts of up to 30 miles per hour.

“The Wolves were well prepared for the event, but nonetheless played poorly in the first two rounds,” Vroon stated. “We let the difficult conditions control us. We continue to work on becoming stronger and more mature players mentally. The final round was significantly better in this regard, and the results showed that. It was nice to leave The Ocean Course on a positive note, as the team remains hopeful that it can improve enough to compete for the conference championship in April. I believe we can do that, as I believe in these guys, their desire to be great and how hard they work.”

Newberry got off to a sandy start as they shot a 329 in the first round of the tournament. Ryan Wilkinson (Gallivants Ferry, S.C.) posted the best score for the team as he shot an 811 in the round followed closely by fellow senior Tommy Hurst (Miami, Fla.) and junior Fredrik Fossum (Levanger, Norway) who were just one stroke behind with 82s. Nick Lussier (Barton, Vt.) scored an 84 and J.P. Ferguson (Travelers Rest, S.C.) rounded out the scoring with a 94. The Wolves sat tied for 12th with King University at the end of round number one.

Round two sang a different song for some teams, but the Wolves were still troubled by the beach and the wind as they scored a 328 to put them at 657 and in 15th place after the second round. Wilkinson and Hurt each dropped two strokes to 79 and 80, respectively. Lussier stayed steady at 84 while Fossum fell to an 85 and Ferguson dropped three strokes to a 91.

The third round brought Newberry back to their normal playing skills as they dropped 21 strokes from round two to round three to total a 307 for the final 18. Hurst and Fossum each carded a 74, improving six and 11 strokes from their previous round, respectively. Wilkinson turned in an 80 while Lussier stayed consistent at an 84, his third 84 of the tournament. Ferguson posted his best round as he shaved off 12 strokes from his second round to shoot a 79.

Hurst finished up the tournament with a total score of 236 while Wilkinson posted a 240 and Fossum came in at 241. Lussier finished at 252 and Ferguson was at 264 for the 54-hole total.

“It was a memorable week for the team with all of the experiences that come with being at The Ocean Course for four days,” Vroon added. “It was a very valuable week for the program as being the host school at such an outstanding event was an honor. We are very thankful for everyone at The Ocean Course and at the Kiawah Resort for their help in making the event great. We are also grateful for everyone at Newberry College who helped organize and run the event.”

The Wolves experienced one of the top golf courses in the world this past weekend and will most certainly look to host the second annual Newberry Invitational at The Ocean Course in 2016 after the fantastic turnout and comments from this year’s event.

Newberry has four tournaments left on their schedule for the 2015 spring season as the Wolves will take part in The Club at Irish Creek Invitational at the Club at Irish on February 23-24, the Bearcat Golf Classic at Greenwood Country Club on March 23-24, the Barry University Buccaneer Invitational at Normandy Shores Golf Course on March 30-31 and the UMO Invitational – The Trojan at Walnut Creek Country Club on April 6-7 before participating in the South Atlantic Conference tournament at Firethorn Country Club in Marvin, N.C., on April 19-21.