By Katelyn Massarelli
Both the men’s and women’s golf teams had a disappointing end to last season, concluding with a less-than-desirable eighth place finish at the 2015 Sunshine State Conference (SSC) Championships. Starting off this season on Sept. 19, the women’s team finished sixth at the Daytona State Invitational and the men finished their first tournament, the Flagler Invitational, in ninth place on Sept. 22.
Although very happy with their performance, the women’s golf team felt they were unable to compete at their best because the golf course, LPGA International Legends, was difficult to play on due to the small greens and many hazards all around the course. The weather was not in their favor either, as rain poured all afternoon.
“LPGA International is probably one of the toughest golf courses we will play all year,” junior Grace Marie Schian said.“It was a course only one out of five of [the returning golfers] had ever played. We were playing against teams that play that course all the time, so that really put us at a disadvantage.”
Despite the obstacles they faced, the women remain optimistic for the rest of this season.
“While sixth place is not as good a finish as we had hoped for, it was a solid start to the season when we had very limited time to prepare,” said senior Alyssa Morahan, “The fact it was such a tough course better prepares us as a team for the rest of the season.”
By the tournament’s end, the women’s golf team had 325 and 327 strokes between the two days they competed. This matched closely to their overall scores from last season’s number of strokes as a team. It is not where they want to be, but it serves as a place to start.
“This leaves us with motivation for the future [tournaments] and lots of room for improvement,” Morahan said.
Schian and Morahan both came out as two of the top golfers for UT, with individual shots of 161 and 162 respectively.
“I know I am capable of shooting much lower and look forward to improving as I prepare for the next tournament,” Morahan said.
Altogether, the women thought their first tournament went well and think of it as a place to get stronger as a team.
“The tournament was a great building block,” Schian said. “Our top-five [golfers] are back from last year and we’ve all put in the work during the offseason.”
For the men’s golf team, their ninth place finish left them less than impressed.
“We shot ourselves in the foot in the first two rounds,” said junior Justin Elwell. “We’ll look to improve from that ninth-place finish going forward.”
The men’s team traveled to St. Augustine to compete against conference rivals University of West Florida , Rollins College and Eckerd College. The Spartans ended the tournament with a total of 866 shots.
“It’s funny, because 866 is the best score we’ve shot since I’ve been here,” Elwell said. “But we’re dry talented this year, so none of us were all that happy with [the score]. We know we’re better than that.”
UWF ended up winning the team title with 852 shots and Rollins ended with 859 shots by the end of the tournament.
“We knew going in there were a lot of good teams there at Flagler tournament, so I wasn’t all that surprised to see the scores that were shot. It was definitely out there,” Elwell said.
The men plan to use this first tournament as a learning experience for tournaments to come, and both teams are expecting themselves to continually progress as the season goes on. As for the women, confidence is riding high going forward.
“This is by far the best women’s golf team roster we’ve had since Tampa established the women’s golf team here five years ago,” Schian said. “We have a lot of high hopes for this season and I’m excited to see where we go.”