Junior golfer claims league’s top honor
Sunday, January 01, 2012
It was an historic fall for Calvin men’s golfer Ben Kuiper. A junior from Grand Rapids, Mich., Kuiper became the first Calvin golfer since 1965 to claim MIAA Most Valuable Golfer honors. Kuiper did so with an MIAA season scoring average of 74.6 strokes-per-round, finishing three strokes ahead of the nearest competition. A graduate of Grand Rapids Christian High School, Kuiper moved up 14 spots from his 2010 position in the final MIAA individual league standings when he finished 15th with an average of 76.9 strokes-per-round. His 2011 average is the second best in Calvin men’s golf history.
Kuiper was a model of consistency throughout the season, finishing in the top 10 in seven of the eight league outings. At a late-season tournament hosted by Hope at the Wuskowhan Player’s Club, Kuiper earned medalist honors by firing a round of 71. He then closed out the year strong by recording rounds of 75 and 73 in the final two league outings of the year to finish in first place in the final MIAA individual standings.
Kuiper accepted the award with a humble attitude: “I never really thought about winning it (the MVP award),” said Kuiper who is majoring in biochemistry. “I was just trying to do everything I could to help our team. When you are focused on the team, you don’t think too much about individual honors.”
“Ben had an incredible season,” said Calvin men’s golf coach Brian Bolt. “We moved him from the number- three position in our lineup to the top spot, and he was more than up to the challenge. He has developed into a real leader for our team. He has a quiet determination about him and that sets a strong example for the rest of our golfers.”
Kuiper’s individual finish was not enough to move Calvin into the top four in the final MIAA fall standings, as the Knights finished sixth after winning the league title the year before. The top four teams in the MIAA fall standings are eligible to compete for the league’s automatic qualifying spot for the NCAA III Tournament. The competition takes place at the MIAA spring tournament, but only the top four teams from the fall standings are eligible to compete for the spot. Kuiper and the rest of the Calvin men’s golf team will still compete in the MIAA spring tournament however. Kuiper hopes to post enough low scores to qualify individually for the NCAA III Tournament.
“It won’t be easy to qualify for the NCAA III Tournament, but Ben has a chance,” said Bolt. “His fall season puts him in the running, and if he can maintain his consistency this spring he’ll be right in the mix.”