Golf club sends athlete to nationals

The year was 2013 when then freshman Jack Koeller was forced to leave the men’s golf team. It came at a time when PLNU was forced to cut many of its men’s teams in an effort to level the ratio between men and women for their sports groups.

“They gave me the sportsmanship award because I handled it so well,” said Koeller.

The squad was one of four teams along with men’s track and field, cross-country and women’s softball cut by PLNU; Koeller was the lone freshman on the roster. This semester, Koeller –junior and team president- founded the first men’s golf club team since the squad was cut from competitive play due to Title IX—a federal statute that requires gender equity in all education institutions that receive federal funding, including sports.

“If it wasn’t for the golf club, men’s golf at Point Loma would pretty much be nonexistent,” said Koeller. “I think golf is a big sport and most other colleges have a golf program. It’s pretty lame we don’t. So I think it plays a pretty key role.”

The golf club sent one of their athletes, senior Zachary Wood, to the National Collegiate Club Golf Association’s (NCCGA) spring tournament, which pits other clubs against each other from across the nation April 25-26 in Greensborough, North Carolina. Wood qualified for the event by placing third in the prior regional tournament. He shot 162 in two rounds for a +18 over par, which tied him for 110th out of 297 players.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go just because it was expensive and it was two weeks away,” said Wood. “So I was pretty excited when I found it out it was going to happen and here I am, leaving tonight.”

Wood’s trip to North Carolina accounted for 40 percent of the golf club’s overall funding this semester. In an effort to save money, the team would practice regularly at the Stadium Golf Center course in Serra Mesa for free. This “launch” club, a distinction given to all newly introduced clubs, has seen quite a sizeable amount of funding from the Associated Student Body in comparison to others, said Nathan Guajardo, director of student relations.

“They allocated $1,000 at the beginning of the year, the majority of that went to registering with the NCCGA,” said Guajardo. “Then they collected dues and bought their uniforms with some of that money. They were given $500 for that and then they were given another $1,000 for sending Zach over to the national tournament at the end of the year.”

The club had shaky beginnings, however, as the team had to address the thin line between being classified as either a club or competitive team. Guajardo said the distinction between a club and team is sometimes construed.

“Athletic teams are somewhere in the middle, because on one hand, clubs can’t discriminate or be exclusive,” said Guajardo. “But at the same time, for athletic teams, they got to compete and we [ASB] want them to be very competitive.”

The team is currently composed of eight players, making it one of the smallest sports club teams on campus. Koeller said he wants to keep in line with this rule from ASB by adding players who are both competitive and recreational for next year.

“I got to have the club be available to everybody and have activities that everyone can take part in,” said Koeller. “But I also want part of the club to be competitive because I know there are guys who have played golf in the past who still want to be playing golf and they want to have that competitive feel, too. So I got to make sure that we’re touching on both of those.”

Koeller said the team will be looking to expand its roster size next year and is currently looking for a balance of casual as well as competitive players.