Shattering records and outputting opponents, the Lords golf team ended their fall season riding a wave of momentum. After kicking the season off with a seventh-place finish at Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky., the Lords closed their season with two straight first-place finishes, including one at Kenyon’s own BSN Invitational at Mount Vernon’s Chapel Hill Golf Course on Oct. 9 and 10.
In both of these tournaments, senior Mason McCool led the way. He earned the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Golfer of the Week title following the Mason-Dixon Collegiate Classic. McCool said the team’s current level “is not a place Kenyon golf has ever been before.”
In the final tournament of the fall, the Lords came from behind to win in record-setting fashion. Not only did the Lords break the school record for the lowest 18-hole total, going two under par to score 286 in the third round, they also broke the record for the lowest 54-hole total with a team score of 875 over the full tournament.
For the par-72 final round, McCool, Sadiq Jiwa ’18 and Chase Frederick ’20 led the way with scores of 68, 71 and 72, bringing Kenyon from four points behind Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh) to two points ahead. Ryan Muthiora ’18 and Bray Caverly ’20 put in scores of 75 and 76, respectively, to round out the top five for that day.
The subdued intensity and tension that usually marks a golf tournament in its final round was soon replaced with an earnest but measured excitement when the Lords realized they had come out on top. “We were all high-fiving, celebrating, you know, as much as golfers celebrate,” McCool said. “It was a lot of fun.”
That sense of fun, on top of the success, defines the Lords’ fall season. “We take each other seriously, but I’ve never met a group of guys who joke around with each other more,” McCool said.
Head Coach Grant Wallace agreed. “We enjoy being around each other,” Wallace said. “It really shows, and I think some teams don’t like that because they’re like ‘Hey, those guys at Kenyon are different.’” Between bus rides, nights in hotel rooms across the Midwest and hanging out outside of practice, the team has developed a strong sense of camaraderie.
With strong bonds and strong finishes, the Lords golf team is now facing the challenge of carrying the momentum into the spring season.
Armed with the confidence from perhaps the best fall season in their history, the Lords are seeking the conference championship and a bid for nationals in the spring. Kenyon is currently ranked fifth in the NCAA Great Lakes Region; they are still chasing Wittenberg University, ranked first in the region and second in the nation by the NCAA and the Golf Coaches Association of America, respectively. McCool believes, if given the chance, Kenyon can put up the same scores as their in-conference adversary.
Wallace also believes that Kenyon is in a position to garner national attention. Kenyon has competed with and beaten nationally ranked teams throughout the season. The Midwest is not known for its golf, so Kenyon will need to venture beyond the Great Lakes Region. In the spring, tournaments in the South, where many of the highly ranked teams are located, will give Kenyon chances to leave its mark on the national level.
“That’s all we need, a chance,” McCool said. “And to have that chance, we need the confidence.” With a fall season like this, the Lords have reason to be confident and are well on their way to achieving their goals in the spring.