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Lower scores, higher expectations for Calvin golfer
By Jeff Febus

Jess HendriksmaAfter a season of improvement, Calvin College sophomore Jess Hendriksma will be looking for more next fall.

A fixture in the Calvin men’s golf lineup, Hendriksma matched the seventh-best single-season scoring average in Calvin men’s golf history this fall with an average of 78.0 strokes-per-round in league play. The average was good for 13th place in the final MIAA individual standings with Hendriksma missing a spot on the All-MIAA second team by just five strokes. Hendriksma’s efforts helped the Knights finish in fifth place in the final team standings.

A graduate of Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian High School, Hendriksma fired six rounds under 80 during the MIAA season including a season-best round of 74 in a league tournament hosted by Hope at the Wuskowhan Player’s Club.

Hendriksma’s season average was also an improvement of nearly two-and-a-half strokes over his average from the year before.

“My putting hurt my scores during my freshman year,” said Hendriksma. “I put a lot of work in on my short game over the summer, and it made a difference this fall. If you want to improve your scores, the short game is usually what it comes down to.”

As Hendriksma’s scores improved, so did his position in the Calvin lineup as he played in the No. 1 slot during the second half of the league season, pitting him up against the top golfers from around the league.                

“When you play against the top golfers in the league, you see first-hand what it takes to finish among the league leaders,” said Hendriksma. “When the top guys are within 100 yards of the green, they stick their approach shots right at the hole. Watching that gives you an idea of what you need to work on in order to get to that level.”

The pressure of playing in the No. 1 slot is eased by a collective team focus, said Hendriksma. “One of our goals in every tournament is to have at least one golfer shoot 75 or lower,” said Hendriksma. “Our team focus is that all five golfers in our lineup go into a tournament with the thought that they will be the one to reach that goal rather than depend on one guy. That attitude takes a lot of pressure off of each individual because we share the expectation.”

Another team goal according to Hendriksma is to have four of Calvin’s five golfers in each tournament post scores in the 70’s. The Knights achieved the feat twice in league play this fall and showed glimpses of doing more. “We showed signs of reaching that goal throughout the season but we never quite put it all together on a consistent basis,” said Hendriksma.

“If you want to move into the top three in the league (team) standings, consistency is key.”

With its entire lineup returning in 2009, Hendriksma is optimistic for improvement. “We have some freshmen that showed a lot of potential this fall and with the veterans returning, we should be improved next season,” said Hendriksma.

A biology major, Hendriksma is considering a career as a dentist. When looking for a college to attend, Hendriksma found that Calvin had everything he was looking for.

“I wanted a school with strong academics, and I wanted to continue playing golf at the collegiate level,” said Hendriksma. “I also liked the idea of staying close to home. Coach (Brian) Bolt was also very welcoming when he recruited me out of high school. I like his approach, his attitude and the way he relates to the players on our team. He’s motivated to help our team improve.”