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Women's golf completes successful season
By Ross Weener
Dawn Svenkeson
Dawn Svenkeson

Last spring sophomore Dawn Svenkeson didn't even know if Calvin would be fielding a golf team when she returned for fall semester. She was the only returning player as some had graduated and others had simply thrown in the towel. Nine months later, Svenkeson smiles at the former notion that there would be no women's golf team, and takes heart in the Knight's fourth-place MIAA finish this fall.

Not only is it a severe turnaround from 2001, when Calvin finished in seventh place, it is also the best finish for the Knights since their third-place finish in 1995. Previously, the women's golf team has struggled recording a DNF in 1997, eighth place in 1998, ninth place in 1999, and back-to-back seventh place finishes in 2000 and 2001.

In a game that requires such tough mental stamina, and typically only rewards seasoned veterans the Calvin women's golf team thrived. But how? With the nucleus of the team being a sophomore, and a first-year head coach in Jerry Bergsma, the odds seemed stacked against them.

According to Bergsma the results can directly be attributed to the hard work put in during practice. "These girls worked very hard in practice, both on their golf games and also on their mental toughness."

Bergsma knew coming in that the season wasn't going to be a cakewalk. "I didn't want to sugarcoat anything. I didn't want to give the girls anything to compare themselves to, so I just told them to play against the golf course and let the chips fall where they may. The fourth-place finish is a big step for Calvin, and we will work hard in the off-season to continue to improve."

To win the league championship in women's golf, one must perform very well at the MIAA championships, hosted by a different school each year. It is the cumulative score of the two-day 36-hole event that stands up as your final team score in the league standings. Leading up to the MIAA championships are three 18-hole MIAA jamborees, which mean nothing to the team scores, but everything to the individual standings. The final individual standings are an average of the five 18-hole events played (two rounds at the MIAA championships and three rounds at the MIAA jamborees).

Calvin's final team score of 804 on October 4 and 5 at the Zollner Golf Club in Angola, Ind., was good enough to place in front of fifth place Olivet (815), and behind third place Albion (722). Calvin was led by Svenkeson who fired a 180 for the weekend highlighted by an 88 in Saturday's competition. Her score also tied her for the tenth-best round on the weekend. Freshman Annie Huizenga was the Knight's second best finisher, turning in a score of 191.

Svenkeson, who dropped 13 strokes from her opening round score in the championship round, said the team helped make her better. "We all played because we loved the game. This is the first golf team that I have been on that the players actually wanted to practice and recognized that they needed to improve."

The only question about next year's team, with most of the team returning, is how much better they can get.