The Olivet men’s golf team already has embarked on the 2017-2018 season and is looking for its first conference title since the 2008-2009 season. During that time, the Comets were led by Olivet College Athletic Hall of Fame inductee Gary Morrison.
This season is the third under Coach Bill Maas, who took over the program from Kevin Allard in 2015. Maas has also been coaching the women’s golf team for the past 15 seasons.
When it comes to the future of men’s golf at Olivet College, Maas is optimistic.
“We have a group of players now that are more serious about what they are doing [on the course] and are more interested in being successful,” Maas said in a sit-down interview. “I don’t know what happened before we took over with the old coaching staff, but I believe that when you have a staff that is more committed to the program, the golfers are also more committed to the program.”
The freshmen class is highlighted by Nick Hoffman, who so far this season has a stroke average of 78.5, 18-hole average, which leads the team. The secret to success for Hoffman has been his will to win this year.
“I am a fierce competitor who hates losing. I believe I also hit the ball very far and am good with my irons,” Hoffman said. He also doesn’t shy away from his weaknesses and areas that need improvement. “Probably my temper [on the course] and my chipping is what I need to improve on.”
“Nick [Hoffman] is the one golfer who really jumps out at me to make a big splash as a freshman this year and has the potential to be very good for us,” Maas said about his freshman golfer.
A key returner for the Comets is senior team captain Tanor Blowers, who is coming off a hot 2017 Spring season that saw Blowers lower his stroke average to 77.5 from 82.3 through 18-holes in the 2016 Fall season. Through two individual events this season, Blowers has a stroke average of 80.3, according to olivetcomets.com.
“My strong suit has been my short game,” Blowers said about his season so far. “My weaknesses so far is hitting the green regulary with consistency.”
Maas had this to say about his senior captain, “As a coaching staff, we would love to see Tanor [Blowers] make a big statement in his senior year. We are very confident in him and he is very talented and we would like to see his scores reflect his ability.”
Other returners include seniors Joey Richmond and Austin Ward and sophomore Zach Sturgill. The team has four returning golfers from the previous season, and has added five freshmen and three new seniors. The team’s roster grew from seven in 2016-2017 to 12 for this season, according to olivetcomets.com.
The team has already competed in four events this year. The first event of the fall season was the Lou Collins Memorial Tournament played at the Bedford Valley Country Club in Battle Creek on Sept. 1 and 2. The Comets as a team placed 14 out of 16 in the match, with 651 total strokes. Hoffman recorded back-to-back 78 stroke rounds in the tournament for a two-round score of 156 strokes. Blowers was second on the team individually with 161 total strokes.
The second event of the season, The Battle of the Brook, took place in Sandusky, Ohio at the Plumbrook Country Club on Sept. 9 and 10. The tournament was hosted by Ohio Wesleyan University and the Comets finished in sixth place with 644 total strokes. Hoffman paced the team with 158 strokes, followed by Richmond with 159 strokes and Blowers with 160 strokes.
The third event of the season was the Ken Venturi Classic hosted by Trine University and was played at Zollner Golf Course in Angola, Indiana. The match was played on Sept. 13. The Comet’s finished third out of six teams with a team score of 214. This tournament was played in a modified Ryder Cup format that had golfers playing in pairs with the first six holes played as a scramble. The following six holes were scored depending on who had the best ball for each pair. The final six holes were alternating shots by each pair. Blowers and Richmond combined for a 71 to tie with freshmen Ethan Sharpe and Jake Andrews to lead the Comets, followed closely by Sturgill and Hoffman, who posted a 72.
The fourth and most recent event for the Comets was this past Tuesday, Sept. 19, in the first Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) jamboree. Olivet finished fourth overall led by Blowers and Richmond each shooting 74 through 18 holes.
The Comets hit the course again tomorrow, Sept. 23, in the second MIAA Jamboree of the season at Pine River Country Club which is hosted by Alma College. The match will start at 1 p.m. All information regarding the Olivet men’s golf team can be found on the Olivet Comets Athletic website, www.olivetcomets.com.