Golf teams start spring on high notes

Story by Chad Mullens, Writer

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The Baker University women’s golf team won its first tournament of the spring, while the men placed fourth in their first invitational last week.

On the women’s side, two-time HAAC Player of the Year Lindsey Mateer led the Wildcats to first place with rounds of 76 and 78, outpacing second place by six strokes. The event was hosted by Missouri Valley April 6-7 at Indian Foothills Golf Club.

“She’s leading the conference statistically right now,” Coach Karen Exon said.

Sophomore Kaci Dillingham was second with an 84-81, followed by an 82-84 from freshman Bailey Gibson and an 86-89 from senior Emma Tinsley. Freshman Bailey Rockers rounded out the Wildcats five with consecutive rounds of 90.

“We were the only team that had every player score under 100,” Exon said. “And this was Kaci’s first time back from studying abroad, and that was a solid outing for her.”

Among the accolades from the men’s tournament were the Wildcats finishing first among HAAC schools, and junior Grant Grego winning HAAC Men’s Golfer of the Week.

“He had a really great first-round score,” Exon said. “It was one of those charmed rounds where no matter what he did, it played out well. He came down to earth in the second round, but he averaged a great score.”

Exon was pleased with the overall performance of the men’s squad.

“The guys played really well,” Exon said. “And we smoked Evangel, who is ahead of us in the standings right now, so that is a good sign.”

Exon was not ready to vault the men higher in the standings due to their stellar performance however.

“We feel pretty good about ourselves, but it’s a little early to be placing ourselves at the top of the leaderboard,” Exon said. “Nevertheless, it was a great start to the season.”

Next week will be Baker’s first 54-hole tournament for both the men and the women, at the Wildcats’ home course at Alvamar Country Club in Lawrence.

“This next tournament will tell us a lot more about what kind of shape we’re in,” Exon said. “At the end of the first 36 holes, they will have walked about 12 miles with 25-30 pounds on their backs, so it will definitely be grueling.”

Exon believes that regularly practicing at a course that is one the toughest in the state is a great advantage not just at that specific course, but everywhere they play.

“I think that when we step on any other course, we’re not intimidated by what we see, because we see the toughest last six holes in the HAAC all the time,” she said.

The main point of advice she gives to her players is to stay sharp mentally.

“We talk about course management every day,” she said. “And it starts with the six inches between your ears.”