2012 Calvin Men’s Golf Outlook
Monday, August 20, 2012
By Mark DeHaan
A year after capturing its first MIAA championship, the Calvin men’s golf team’s repeat bid was dismantled by a rash of injuries and an inconsistent line-up. Still, the Knights finished sixth in the MIAA and vied for a spot in the spring tournament through the very end of the fall season.
Returning all but one golfer from last season and two All-MIAA performers, this fall promises to be exciting for the Knights’ golf squad. “We’ll have a lot of returners,” said Head Coach Brian Bolt. “Last year, we just have a string of bad luck with injuries, and we had some withdrawals. We did have some talent, we just couldn’t put it together because our lineup kept changing. We’re excited about the student athletes that are returning, and as is always the case, you get a new challenge from incoming freshmen.”
Both of Calvin’s All-MIAA performers, Ben Kuiper and Dave Sarkipato, will be seniors this year. Sarkipato was named to the second team All-MIAA while Kuiper was named to the first team All-MIAA and the MIAA MVP. Kuiper’s average round of 74.6 was best in conference and gave Calvin its first MIAA MVP in men’s golf since 1965. Kuiper was also named to the Division III Ping Great Lakes All-Region team.
If Calvin is to return to the top of the MIAA, it starts with Kuiper. “Ben is incredibly important. He is a terrific leader because he is the hardest worker on the team, and because he has a lot of talent. His ability to lead is going to be really important for us,” commented Bolt. “But you can’t win without depth. Ben will set the tone, and we’re hoping that Ben can improve on last year as well. We want him to move forward and hopefully set a new record for himself and do so without putting pressure on himself. The the rest of the guys will try and push him and match his work ethic.”
Even with the top golfer in the conference returning, Bolt encourages each golfer to push to be the best golfer on the course in each round they play. “We never go in and say our number one golfer will get the lowest score,” explained Bolt. “Instead, we say that if you’re in the lineup, any one of you could have the best score today. That’s the type of mindset we try to nurture so that we have a deeper team where any one could step up at any time.”
That mentality showed up last spring when the team earned top three finishes in all five tournaments it participated in. In those five tournaments, Calvin had four different golfers earn the lowest score on the team. Throughout the spring, the Knights showed the depth and consistency that eluded them during the fall, showing other area colleges how dangerous they could be.
While the team played well during the spring, there are still areas that each golfer has to work on individually during the summer. The fall season determines what the team needs to work on in the spring season, and that carries on into summer break. “Spring season helps us get some sense of what we need to work on over the summer, so going into the spring season all the players have specific goals,” said Bolt. “As they leave for the summer, they have more specific areas of their game that need attention,” continued Bolt. “So you might go back and say I’m going to spend a lot more time putting or I have to tweak some things with my swing or I’m going to work on my short irons.”
With another summer of training and preparation for the returning golfers and all but one golfer from last year returning, Bolt is optimistic about the team’s chances in conference for this fall. Said Bolt: “I think we should compete for one of the top spots (of the MIAA). There is plenty of talent in the league, but we have as much as anybody else. We’re optimistic that this is going to be a really good fall for us, and I think we’re coming in at a pretty healthy place, so I would say we have high goals for this fall.”