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Young Calvin golf team in good hands with new coach
By Jeff Febus
Brian Bolt
Men's golf coach Brian Bolt

After one full year at the helm of the Calvin men's golf program, Brian Bolt has an optimistic outlook for the future of his team.

A 1990 Calvin graduate, Bolt returned to his alma mater in the fall of 2004 to serve as an associate professor in Calvin's department of health, physical education, recreation, dance and sport. After earning his undergraduate degree in physical education, Bolt remained in Michigan for a year, teaching physical education and social studies at the elementary and middle school level in Kalamazoo. He then went on to pursue his master's at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and then earned his Ph.D. in teacher education and physical education at UNC–Greensboro. Bolt spent the previous eight years teaching at Roanoke College in Salem, Va. While there, he served as the department chair for education and physical education.

On the golf side of things, Bolt taught golf while in graduate school and while teaching at Roanoke. He has helped people of all levels and ages learn to golf through private lessons, camps and at colleges.

Bolt took over the coaching reins of the Calvin men's golf team in time for its 2005 spring season, replacing previous head coach Jim Timmer Jr., who had accepted the head coaching duties of the Calvin baseball team.

The spring campaign allowed Bolt to get acclimated to his players. "Our spring schedule is focused on non-conference tournaments so it served as a 'get-to-know-you' time for me," Bolt said. "The returning players were very gracious in the way they accepted me as their coach."

The intensity picked up this fall when the Knights competed in the 2005 MIAA campaign, finishing in fifth place. "We came into the season with a relatively young team, and yet we met several of our preseason goals," Bolt said. "As a team, we lowered our overall scoring average by nearly six strokes. We also had several strong individual performances by players that will return next fall. That was exciting to see."

Jeff TenBrink
Jeff TenBrink

One of the individuals who met a preseason goal was junior Jeff TenBrink (Kalamazoo, Mich.), who finished seventh in the final MIAA individual standings with a Calvin single-season record average of 75.9 strokes per round, breaking the previous record of 76.0 strokes per round set by Phil Rietema in 2003. Freshman Brad Tindall (Vicksburg, Mich.) and junior Tim VanVugt (Brookfield, Wis.) also had strong campaigns, as Tindall was 14th in the final league standings (78.4) and VanVugt 18th (79.6).

"One of Jeff TenBrink's preseason goals was to break our school record for scoring average, and he met that goal with a terrific fall season," Bolt said. "Brad Tindall is a very poised young player who was solid throughout the season, and Tim VanVugt stepped into our lineup on a regular basis for the first time and really improved." Of the 10 players on the Calvin roster, five were freshmen, and Bolt anticipates that the upcoming spring season will allow his team to mature. "We have some young players that showed signs of breaking through this fall, and we have some veterans that are also getting better," he said. "We have a spring trip through North Carolina and Virginia in March and then some tournaments in April back home, and I would suspect that our players will benefit from the schedule."

Making a move up the MIAA ladder is also a goal next fall, but Bolt realizes that it will not be easy. "If you look at the way scores have dropped the past few years in our league, you realize that the bar just keeps getting higher and higher," he said. "At the same time, we know where we need to be to consistently compete for a spot in the top tier of the league."

Beginning next fall, the MIAA champion will receive an automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA III Championships. "That's exciting for our league and for our team," Bolt said. "We have a lot of work to get to the point where we are competing for an honor like that, but at the same time, it serves as an extra motivational tool for our players to set their sights on."

Read a Knightfile article about Jeff TenBrink's fall 2004 season.