GVSU men's golf dominates season-opening invitational, placing first by 18 strokes
The Grand Valley State men’s golf team had a record-setting start to the 2017-18 season.
Competing in the Al Watrous Invitational in Bay City, Michigan, Saturday, Sept. 9, through Sunday, Sept. 10, the Laker golf team shot a combined two-day score of 560 (-16). The score not only gave the Lakers a victory in their first outing of the year, but it also set a new record at the tournament.
Hillsdale finished second, scoring a 578 (+2) to fall a whopping 18 strokes behind GVSU. Host Saginaw Valley State shot a 579 (+3), ending the weekend in third place.
GVSU head coach Gary Bissell was happy with the team’s performance but recognized that it is up to the team to build on it.
“That’s all it is: It’s a start,” said Bissell, referring to the Laker’s opening outing of the season. “You don’t want your first tournament to be your best tournament, so now it’s just trying to build on that and just stick to what we do and get better every week.”
The Lakers were led by junior Mitchell White, who was the weekend’s individual winner. The Muskegon, Michigan, native shot an impressive 12-under, winning the tournament by four strokes. White’s effort was commended by his head coach, who was impressed with his outing.
“Winning is such a hard thing in golf,” Bissell said. “You’re talking about a hundred guys at a time, so being the best over two days out of a hundred guys, it’s not easy to do.”
White’s efforts set another GVSU record, as he scored the school record for strokes under par, besting a 6-under-par performance set by Josh Orler in 2009. Bissell credits White’s great weekend to the junior’s experience with the team.
“Part of that is putting yourself in position to win,” Bissell said. “Mitchell’s won some, not college events, but he’s won some other big tournaments in his life. You’ve got to put yourself in that position all the time. It takes a little while. Freshmen typically don’t win (college) golf tournaments.
It’s a grind, and it’s a long weekend. Mitchell’s just been through it enough now that (he) knows how to close it out.”
Other Laker notables include freshman Eric Nunn, who shot 2-under for the tournament, placing him in a tie for sixth. Junior Alex Scott also managed to finish in the top 10, shooting 1-under on the weekend to secure ninth place. Redshirt junior Andrew Stevens shot even for the tournament, finishing in 12th.
The Lakers can now look ahead to the GVSU Fall Invitational, hosted by the school in South Haven, Michigan. The tournament will take place Saturday, Sept. 16, and Sunday, Sept. 17.
“It’s a course all our guys are familiar with,” Bissell said. “It will be a good experience. We’ll see some different competition down there.”
The head coach thinks the familiarity will be helpful to the team in a tournament that will feature several talented teams.
“No doubt, it’s an advantage to be at your home course,” he said. “I would say golf has the biggest home-field advantage. At the end of the day, I guess crowds make a big difference, but basketball courts and football fields have the same dimensions. When you go to someone’s golf course that they play every day, they know every little break on that green and where to hit off every tee.”
Despite the comforts of a known course, Bissell knows the tournament still has to be played.
“At the end of the day, you still have to execute," he said. "Just because you know where to hit it doesn’t mean you will.”
Bissell and the Lakers will hope to make it two wins in two weekends at the GVSU Fall Invitational in South Haven.
“Our goal is the same as it always is: We’re just going to go down there and play the best we can and see where we’re at and make the adjustments we need to after the event," Bissell said.