By John Bray
Much like the greens in sunny Beaufort, S.C., the Lords’ spring golf season got off to a fast start. After an impressive fall season that ended with three consecutive second-place finishes, the team was eager to get back onto the links.
Competition began at the TaylorMade-Adidas Intercollegiate Tournament, where the Lords took on 13 of the nation’s best teams. The challenging three rounds in two days did not faze the Lords, who shot team scores of 310, 310 and 307, continuing the consistency showcased throughout the fall season. The Lords’ efforts propelled them to a third-place finish, behind nationally ranked Rhodes College and Wittenberg University. While every member of the team played well, Alex Blickle ’15 set himself apart. Blickle finished the event five over par, good enough for a second-place finish. This performance earned him NCAC golfer of the week honors.
“I was happy to be able to start the season on a high note and definitely credit that to the new facility in the KAC [Kenyon Athletic Center],” Blickle said, referencing the new indoor putting green and hitting base that were recently added to the KAC.
However, Blickle, always one to put the team first, was not concerned with his personal success, but rather with that of his teammates. The tournament left him with a lasting impression of how far the young golf program has come in a few short seasons.
“Seeing where our program has risen to from what it was freshman year is astounding,” he said. “Everything has changed, from the culture to the expectations. And the best part is no one is satisfied yet.”
Traveling back to Ohio after spring break, the Lords continued to demonstrate that unsatisfied mindset at the Mt. Saint Joseph Spring Invite. The Lords opened with an incredible round of 301 and followed it up with a score of 310 in the second round, easily coming away with top honors. There was never any doubt that they were the best team; in fact, Transylvania University, with a fairly strong golf program, placed second in a considerable 11 strokes behind the Lords. Blickle had another strong showing, placing third individually, but Jake Fait ’16 stole the show, beating out Blickle by a stroke to claim second place.
Fait credits a hot start in the first round to his overall success. “I was firing on all cylinders and played pretty well,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever driven the ball that well in my life and I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss the geometric center of the face for about 18 holes. The second day I played pretty poorly, hitting five out of 18 greens but I managed to putt like a young Seve [Ballesteros].”
Fait chimed in on the new expectations that Blickle expressed, but added his own tone and passion to the sentiment. “We expect to win tournaments like that,” he said. “No questions asked. We have the personnel, the coaching and the resources. We want to play in the national championship.”
From top to bottom, the Lords present a very balanced and talented lineup; almost any one of them can come away as the lowest scorer for an event. Access to the new “lab” at the KAC has started to pay off here in the early going, and as the winter weather leaves Gambier, maybe the Lords can get out onto the local courses and continue to progress.
As in all sports, confidence is a key ingredient to success in golf, and right now the Lords deservingly have it and are only adding fuel to that fire. Tuesday morning the newest edition of the NCAA DIII Golf Rankings came out and Kenyon ranked 23rd, the first time in the golf program’s history that it’s been ranked.
The Lords will take this week and next to prepare for the OWU Strimer Memorial Invitational. With the Lords no longer playing the underdog role, this event will give them a clearer picture of where they stand in the conference.