When golf arrives in Hawaii for its final tournament of the fall season Friday, the Colonials will be praying for a weekend without rain.
The team’s fall slate has been nearly cut in half by tournament cancellations and inclement weather. Two competitions – the VCU Janney Invitational and part of the Patriot Intercollegiate tournament – were canceled in September and the Joe Feagnes Marshall Invitational was shortened due to weather conditions that made the courses unplayable.
Head coach Chuck Scheinost said the disruptions to the season have provided a mental challenge for his golfers, who have spent multiple tournaments sitting in the clubhouse during rain delays without knowing if play would continue or not.
“I’ve been coaching 14 years, and I’ve never had anything like it,” Scheinost said.
GW will compete in its final tournament of the year Friday through Sunday at the Ka’anapali Classic Collegiate Invitational in Maui, Hawaii.
The team will go up against seven teams ranked in the top 50 NCAA programs in the Golf Coaches Association of America poll. The field includes four teams – No 6. Oklahoma, No. 15 Clemson, No. 19 Georgia and No. 24 South Carolina – in the top 25.
“It will be a great way for us to head toward our goal of being in the top 150 in the national rankings and then continuing to work our way up from there,” Scheinost said.
Senior Logan Lowe said in the rounds the team has been able to play, the Colonials have struggled to finish strong, but he thinks the fall season has given him and his teammates a chance to build confidence and learn more about their individual golf games.
“I’m excited for Hawaii to see how we stack up against some really big name schools and hopefully we’ll throw together a few good rounds and have some fun,” Lowe said.
The Colonials’ first event of the season, the Joe Feagnes Marshall Invitational, was shortened from 54 holes to 36 due to rain. The following weekend, GW was slated to compete at the VCU Janney Invitational, but the outing was canceled as a result of an impending storm and tornado warnings.
Lowe said his squad was looking forward to competing at VCU, and was especially disappointed the tournament was canceled. The Tuckahoe Creek Course – the Rams’ home course – is a team favorite, he said.
“A couple times I think myself and the guys were ready to go and we wanted to play these tournaments and the weather is kind of, kept us from that, which is a bummer,” Lowe said.
After the tournament at VCU was canceled, the coaching staff quickly added the Patriot Intercollegiate match hosted by George Mason.
The Colonials finished third out of a field of 13 teams in their first day on the course at George Mason, but the second day of play was again scrapped as a storm closed in on the Fairfax, Va. area.
The two full tournaments that GW has competed in this season – the Denver Paintbrush Invitational and the Elon Invitational in October – have concluded with mixed results.
The Colonials collectively struggled in Denver, placing 10th out of 12 teams. The tournament went on, but the team was still faced with weather challenges as snow fell on the greens off and on throughout the two-day event.
A bright spot in the Colonials’ performance in Colorado was Lowe, who placed third out of 60 golfers and finished five strokes under par.
Scheinost said he expected the team to struggle with consistency as a result of the learning curve that comes with playing with such an inexperienced group. Four of the Colonials’ seven rostered players are freshmen or sophomores.
“The word for the fall is ‘growth’ because you have a young squad and got some guys in new roles,” he said.
A similar story unfolded at Elon, where GW again struggled to post consistent numbers. The team finished 12th out of 16 on the first day of play, but made a complete reversal on the second day, standing at 10 strokes under par with four holes to play. Although the Colonials ultimately suffered “hiccups” in the final four holes that pushed them back down to 10th place in the standings, Scheinost said the burst of exceptional play is evidence of what his team is capable of on the course.
With the final tournament of the fall around the corner, Scheinost said he is confident that given a full weekend, his team will be able to stick with the big name programs in Maui.
“We can say they’re going to beat us or we can say we’re going to go out and play,” Scheinost said. “At the end of the day, we have the chance to topple some big boys.”
Tee-off for the first day of play at the Hawaii Ka’anapali Classic Collegiate Invitational is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time Friday.
Kate McCarthy contributed reporting.