Men’s golf perseveres despite small numbers

The men’s golf team has faced a host of challenges this season. They began spring competition in bitingly cold weather and have had to grow accustomed to relocating their practices to a new course after losing their previous one, Rolling Green. The team has attempted to combat these problems with their recent two-day match against McDaniel, in which they placed 7th out of 18 schools.

“The first day was really cold,” Michael Chen ’17 explained. “You want as much movement as possible but whenever you’re layered up to that degree it’s constricting and kind of tough to move but you just have to play as best you can.”

Although the weather was far from ideal, the team played a good first day and played even better in the second day of the tournament. Senior captain Andrew Park was leading the tournament at one point but tied for eighth overall.

“As a team I feel like we played pretty well,” Chen said. “We played a lot better on the second day and really came back from our performance on the first. Three of our scores were in the 70’s which is really good – that’s all we can really hope for.”

The 18-team match included three of their biggest competitors: Franklin and Marshall, McDaniel and Ursinus. F&M stands at first place in the Centennial Conference and has passed the championship title back and forth with McDaniel since 2005. In the pre-season poll, F&M was also selected to place first while Swarthmore was projected to come in at third behind second-place McDaniel.

“F&M has a really solid team this year. Three of their players tied for first in the conference as individuals, so we have huge competition to face when you take that into account,” Chen said. However, McDaniel poses less of a threat. “McDaniel is actually pretty close in competition with us this year because they lost their number one, so we might be able to rally against them,” he explained.

Swarthmore also graduated four seniors last year, three of which were almost always present in conference play. “We’re a little short on players this year,” Head Coach Jim Heller explained. “I usually have ten players but we lost four seniors and one player is abroad.”

This year, the team has a total of 8 players, including Amanda Beebe ’15, who competes as an individual in women’s competition. Furthermore, the team often finds it difficult to find four players to compete in matches due to individual scheduling conflicts and small team numbers to begin with. “I remember last year we would have eight people at every tri-match but this year we’re struggling to get four,” Chen stated.

However the return of the top two players, Park and Chen, have helped the team remain a force to be reckoned with. Park has led the team for the past four years and has created a lasting legacy as a member of the team. “Park is a solid player,” Coach Heller said. “All of his scores are in the 70’s. He is one of the best Swarthmore players in the last twenty years.”

“We’re really glad to have him back this semester,” Chen said. “He’s been a great help in terms of scoring. It’s great to have another person who can go out there and really score and put up a good number.”

Chen has also served as a vital player to the team and has recorded three holes-in-one, the last of which occurred during the team’s spring break trip to Georgia in their match against NAIA defending champions Coastal Georgia. Although the men lost the match 319-282, Chen and Park’s performances were both in the mid 70’s.

Chen’s hole-in-one fell on the anniversary of teammate Beebe’s hole-in-one which she fired last year on their spring break trip. Coming from a large women’s team in high school to being the only woman on a men’s team marked a huge transition for Beebe. “It was a switch,” she explained. “But the guys on the team are some of my best friends. It’s really great playing with them and working with them too.”

Beebe practices with the men, joins them on their spring break trip and travels to a few meets that have individual women competitions going on simultaneously. Aside from those meets, she travels to women’s competitions on her own.

So far, Beebe has only competed in the spring break match against Coastal Georgia, McDaniel invitational, and the Eastern Invitational. The Eastern Invitational marked her best performance of the season as she placed 20th individually among 51 competitors and carded a 98.

“The Eastern Invitational went well,” she said. “Fortunately we had nice weather which is always a plus. As for my game, I’m just trying to get my swing back into rhythm and improve upon my short game that will allow me to score in upcoming tournaments.”

The competition Beebe faced at Eastern included D-III teams from the Centennial Conference as well as those outside of the conference. Gettysburg and McDaniel served as her biggest competition during the meet and are consistently the most challenging opponents she faces during her season.

“Even though it’s still early in my season, I have a number of upcoming tournament where I’ll be looking to improve my game and, as always, enjoy my final opportunities to compete,” she said. Her next tournament is this weekend at the Dickinson Invitational.

The men came home from the Hershey Invitational this past weekend and placed 13th out of 15 teams, three of which were in the top 25 D-III teams in the nation. Last night, four players competed in a tri-match at Springhaven County Club. Beebe won the women’s individual crown. Andrew Pak ’16 led the men, placing second among 13 individuals. Their next match is the Glen Maur National Invitational on Sunday.

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