GVSU men's golf veterans bring positive outlook for season
This past spring, Grand Valley State’s 2016-17 men’s golf team finished in fifth place in the NCAA Super Regional, just one spot shy from qualifying for nationals.
Luckily for the Lakers, the team only lost one senior to graduation leading up to this season.
With an experienced core still intact, the Lakers look to move on from last year’s close call with one goal in mind: a trip to nationals. Coach Gary Bissell said one of the main strengths of this team is their overall experience.
“This is the first year where we are actually older,” Bissell said. “We had been playing freshmen and sophomores for the past couple years. That’ll bode well for them, especially when it becomes championship time.”
The advantage of having players with a lot of experience is the boost in leadership that it gives the team. Bissell listed his veteran golfers Domenic Mancinelli, Alex Scott and Mitchell White as the three people he looks at as the extensions of the coaching staff.
“Domenic and Mitchell are more vocal guys, and they are great at inspiring other guys to want to work harder and practice more," Bissell said. "They are the glue guys on this team. Alex Scott is a true leader by example; he just does everything right. These guys do a really great job of being extensions of the coaching staff and keeping our guys together.”
The most valuable lesson Bissell believes the team learned from their close loss is that every round is crucial to success.
“We were doing really well on day two, but we just absolutely gassed it on the last four holes,” he said. “We want to be the leaders. We don’t want to have to make a comeback.”
The Lakers had four players who were selected to the all-conference team last year.
“We want all of our guys to want to be an all-conference player,” Bissell said. “I’m hoping we can have five make the all-conference team this year. If we can have all five of our top five make the all-conference team, that would be a pretty impressive feat.”
Mancinelli was last year’s team leader in average score. He believes this team is primed to win this year.
“We all worked hard this summer (and) grinded during summer tournaments,” Mancinelli said. “Coming close was (a) good experience for our team. It taught us what we need to do to make it to nationals. We have experience going into super regionals, and we can win a national championship. Now we know what we need to do to make it, and it’s on us to be getting better each day.”
Scott had a strong summer after winning the Kent County Amateur Tournament and the GAM Championship.
“The summer really built a lot of confidence for me, and that confidence helps going into the season,” Scott said.
Scott knows that since he is one of the more experienced players on the team, it is one of his jobs to teach the younger players what it takes to win.
“We have three freshmen with some good talent, and for me it’s about helping them put that talent in the right place and knowing how to use it," Scott said.
The team has had a chance to see what it’s like to come close to a championship, and they now have the experience and the hunger to try to capture a national championship.
“We have the talent to contend for a national championship, show everyone that we are there for a reason and really make ourselves a name," Scott said.
The Lakers open the season Saturday, Sept. 9, versus Saginaw Valley State in the Al Watrous Invitational.