T.J. Long and Nate Hahn started a club golf team at Mercer last semester to prolong their dream of playing competitive golf.
Now, after the club’s second ever tournament, the team is showing signs of improvement. The Bears traveled to Alabama to play at the Robert Trent Jones trail course at Silver Lakes. Their opponents included Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Kennesaw State and Western Carolina.
The team placed seventh out of nine squads, an improvement from their last-place finish in their tournament last semester.
Long said the team’s depth made them more competitive.
“We didn’t have to do a qualifier last spring. We only had five people, and five people went to the tournament,” Long said. The team now has 12 members. “More people going through a qualifier kind of just made it a little more popular, I think. We even added people after we had the qualifier.”
One of those additions was freshman Angelo Malacapay, who led the team with the lowest two-day total. He shot 74 in the first round and 84 in the second round.
Malacapay played golf in high school, appearing in the State tournament as an individual as a freshman and with his team as a junior.
“It was nice to get back in competition, because I hadn’t played an actual tournament round probably since early summer,” Malacapay said. “I thought it was going to be a little bit like high school golf, which it kind of is.”
Long said the majority of the traveling team played in high school. Long finished second on the team with scores of 80 and 84. Hahn shot 89 and 80 while Stephen Galloway shot 86 and 84. Their fifth counting scores came from Alex Granzow, who finished with 99 and 89.
Long said the team’s experience from last semester helped this semester.
“We kind of knew what we were getting into — what we needed to do, what we were going to go through,” Long said.
During Bear Fair, Intramurals had a table that was promoting all of the different clubs people could join. That’s how Malacapay found out about the golf team, and Long thinks that’s a big reason the team has been able to double its membership this year.
Right now, the team doesn’t charge dues, but Long said he is considering changing that to a small figure so the team can strike a deal with a local course “so we don’t have to go out and pay $15 every time we wanted to go play a round.”
The team plans to play in three or four tournaments this year, with the next being scheduled for October 21. For Malacapay, the experience — even after one tournament — has been a great one.
“I’m a freshman, and I’m out of state,” Malacapay said. “Meeting T.J., Nate, Alex, Tim… that was real nice. I could go to people if I ever needed them.”