Head coach Terry Shaffer made no excuses for his young team, which finished 13th, of 17 teams, at the Donald Ross Intercollegiate Tournament early this week.
The course itself presented unique challenges – the par-70 6,718-yard course at Mimosa Hills Golf and Country Club in Morganton, N.C. was rain-drenched, and many of the holes were “tricky” and “hard to read,” Shaffer said. Still, GW’s leader refused to give his players a pass, but added that the team’s mental presence, a key aspect of golf competition, suffered over the two-day tournament.
“It’s hard to concentrate,” Shaffer said. “People don’t know that the first day of competition is about 10 hours straight.”
The style of the long format is a particular problem for a Colonial squad that fields a team with two sophomores and three freshmen. After graduating a number of standout seniors last year, the relatively inexperienced team is still adjusting to a new roster.
Still, Shaffer added, the new players have acclimated to both college life and to competing at the collegiate level, and he hopes that soon, their play will settle out and performances will improve.
“I really do feel that this young team will probably jell really well by the time spring comes around,” Shaffer said. “With our spring team, that’s our conference championship season – that’s when we really have to perform.”
The team was paced by one young member of the roster, sophomore Jack Persons, who shot an 8-over 218, landing him in a tie for 27th place. He came out of the gate well on the first day of competition Monday, tying for first in the first round with a 3-under 67 after a two-hour rain delay. In the shortened second round, Persons finished the day with an even-par score and ultimately fired a 5-over 75 in round two and a 6-over 76 in round three to reach his final rank.
Other high notes came from freshmen Steve Piela and Carlos Pena who shot a 17-over 227 to finish 55th and 21-over 231 to tie for 67th, respectively. It’s a good trend for a youthful team, Shaffer said – one that shows the valuable mentor relationships the Colonials have developed.
“The young men, both the sophomores and freshmen, will continue to improve and will be pretty solid as far as that goes,” Shaffer said. “I think the upperclassmen have helped a lot with the news kids coming up.”
The inclement weather that delayed the start of the competition and postponed the final four holes of round two for the Colonials to Tuesday morning played a factor across the entire competition. GW ultimately finished a 61-over-par 901 in three rounds of play. A key issue for the Colonials was their short game, Shaffer said, identifying it as the biggest area for improvement.
“I will tell you this, that the short game will improve, and guys were hitting greens in regulation, and doing some pretty good things with their ball game,” Shaffer said. “Nevertheless, the short game area does have to improve completely.”
Though the team returned to Foggy Bottom without the results its head coach wanted, he’s not pushing the panic button on the season of the reigning A-10 champions just year.
“I’m disappointed with today, I’m still high off the season, and I think we got a lot of good things ahead of us,” Shaffer said.