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Golfer rises to the challenge of demanding conference
By Annalise Venhuizen
Dawn Svenkeson

Dawn Svenkeson (Scandia, Minn.)

Dropping 13 strokes from your average would be considered a huge improvement for any golfer. Lowering your score by 19 strokes from the first match of the year to the last would also be considered a tremendous advance.

Such was the case for senior golfer Dawn Svenkeson, of Scandia, Minn., who has proven herself to be the type of dedicated player helping to raise the bar in MIAA women’s golf.

This season, Svenkeson finished 16th in the MIAA with a stroke average of 90.4, a remarkable improvement from her 22nd-place finish and 103.8 stroke average from 2001, when she started golfing for Calvin as a freshman. After starting the 2004 season with a score of 100, Svenkeson shot a career-low 81-stroke round in the 2004 MIAA tournament. It was the highlight of her season and a great way to end her collegiate golf career.

Her 2004 season average placed her third on the top Calvin women golfers’ list. It would have placed her first if not for two other record-breaking Calvin golfers this season—juniors Annie Huizenga, of Hudsonville, Mich., and Margare Tassaro, of Carnegie, Pa.

With her 2003 season average of 94.2, Svenkeson also holds 10th place among all top Calvin women golfers. As a result of her and her teammates’ successes, Svenkeson has seen the team average of strokes per round fall from over 400 in 2001 to 371.8 in 2004.

But Calvin women are not the only MIAA golfers who are setting records and raising the standard. The whole conference has improved. Svenkeson believes this is a good situation and said that she was “very happy to be part of a developing program.” Svenkeson hopes that Calvin’s team grows with more dedicated players so that they can step up to the challenge posed by other MIAA teams—namely, St. Mary’s, which finished first in the conference. Calvin finished fifth.

Svenkeson learned to golf from her father, who began to play a lot of golf while she was in junior high school. As a result, she joined the junior high school team and continued to play at Forest Lake High School. She chose Calvin because it was one of the few Christian colleges with both an engineering program and a women’s golf team. During her time at Calvin, Svenkeson has appeared regularly on the Dean’s List and twice earned a spot on the MIAA’s Academic Honor Roll. She will graduate in May with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Though she plans to find a job after college, golf will not cease to be a part of her life. “I will miss the competition at the college level, and I know it will never be the same. I will never have a reason to dedicate that much time to golfing … [but] I hopefully will continue to play, possibly in a league,” Svenkeson said.