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First-year golfer has big plans
By Bruce VanBaren

Eric DoezemaFirst-year student Eric Doezema's biggest concern coming into Calvin was making the golf team. The Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian graduate not only played his way into the Knights' top five, but finished his first collegiate season as the team leader and just two strokes shy of Calvin's career best average.

Doezema's 78.6 strokes-per-round average was tops among freshmen in the MIAA, where he was 14th in the final league standings. He missed a spot on the All-MIAA second team by just a tenth of a stroke.

Doezema's best performance came in the final league outing, when he shot a 71 at Tri-State's Zollner Golf Course. His season-best score was also good enough for a season-best fifth-place finish. After working his way into Calvin's five-player lineup, he finished the eight-round season with a string of three top-six finishes.

“The first tournament I didn't even play in, the second I was the alternate so my score didn't even count, and the third tournament, I was in the lineup, but didn't play that great,” he said. But he would remain in the lineup the rest of the year en route to the 12th-best single-season scoring average in Calvin men's golf history.

“Eric is a great person to coach because he is quietly confident, hard-working and willing to listen,” Coach Brian Bolt said. “He stayed patient, waited for his game to come around and earned a chance in the lineup.”

“That's always been how I've kind of worked — in golf, hockey and tennis,” said Doezema, who was an all-state tennis player for Grand Rapids Christian and is also a left wing for Calvin's hockey team. “I always start off kind of slow, even though I had been playing all summer. I guess I wasn't familiar with the situation.”

With a year under his belt, familiarity with the league courses is something Doezema said will be a big help heading into next year.

“Going into some of the tournaments this year, I was going in there blind, not knowing what to do,” he said. “You want to go for it and you're trying to play under par, but you have to play conservatively on holes you don't know really well.”

Doezema believes this familiarity should shave two or three strokes off per round. If that's true, he could break Calvin's career low scoring average of 76 next year.

“It should be an easy goal to reach by the time I'm a senior,” Doezema said.

It should also help a young Calvin team reach Doezema's other goal — an MIAA championship. This year, the team had four freshmen, six sophomores and only one junior and placed sixth in the final league standings. But Doezema recognizes the potential of this young core.

“[MIAA champion] Hope lost their top four or five guys,” he said. “Looking at our squad, when [Hope's seniors] were freshmen, they were exactly how we were. Hopefully in the future we can be just as good as they were this year.”

Doezema feels he can lead the team, even as an underclassman.

“It's kind of hard to be a leader in golf,” he said. “But if you're playing well, it forces other people to play well to try to keep up with you.”

Although he didn't have to do it this season, keeping up is something Doezema is used to from his summer rounds. He frequently plays with fellow Grand Rapids Christian graduate Clark Klaasen, who is Duke University's No. 1 golfer, as well as the University of Michigan's No. 1 golfer, Brian Ottenweller. He plans to hit the links with them again next summer.

“That will help me keep my standards high,” Doezema said. “[My goal is] first team MIAA. I know there are also a couple of freshmen and sophomores on other teams that are really good, so I know it's going to be tough.”

Not only are his individual standards high, but so, too, is his goal for the team.

“It would be nice to win the MIAA and go to the NCAA tournament.”

Calvin has never won an MIAA championship in golf nor has a Calvin golfer ever advanced to the NCAA tournament.