Men's golf seeks stronger GPAC performances this spring

By Jake Knabel on Mar. 31, 2016 in Men's Golf

The spring golf season heats up this weekend for fifth-year head coach Brett Muller’s men’s program. The goal this April and May is to lower its scores at the final two GPAC qualifiers. In non GPAC-events, the Bulldogs shot an average round of 308.7 this past fall. That figure went up to an average of 314.0 at the first two conference outings.

Concordia has spent the winter and early spring determined to prove its better than its current ninth-place (312-316–628) in the GPAC.

“If you take out our two GPAC qualifiers I thought we had a pretty solid fall season,” Muller said. “Unfortunately it’s all about the GPACs and those were two of our higher team scores. That was disappointing because I feel we’re a much better team than No. 9 in the conference. That’s where we’re at right now. The guys have been working hard this spring putting in some extra time before and after practice. I really look for us to move up in the standings.”

The biggest highlight of the fall 2015 season, from a team perspective, came on Sept. 10 when the Bulldogs broke a program record for lowest single-round score with a 298 at the Siouxland Invite. They also shot a 305 at the Doane Invite and a 308 at the Mount Marty Invite.

Now the trick is finding greater consistency. Junior Reid Wiebe turned in seven rounds of 75 or lower in the fall, but his other two outings – 82 and 84 – happened to come during GPAC competition. Known for his powerful drives, Wiebe still managed to top the team with an average score of 75.3. He’ll have a big say in how far Concordia climbs up the conference leaderboard.

“Reid is very self-motivated,” Muller said. “He knows he did not perform in the two GPACs. He’s proven that he’s a very capable player and was one of the top players in the conference at other tournaments. He just needs to bring that to the GPAC qualifiers. I’m really not too worried about where he’s at. He’s put in a lot of time last fall and this spring to get his game back. I look for him to have a great spring campaign.”

There are plenty of options after Wiebe. The team’s top-ranked GPAC individuals are sophomores Tyler Ehresman (73-80–153) and Russell Otten (76-77–153). They are tied for 19th in the conference. Ehresman, Otten, Wiebe and freshman Nolan Zikas were the four Bulldogs to participate in all nine rounds during the fall. A total of 10 individuals competed for Muller’s squad in the fall.

Positive signs surfaced this spring when Concordia knocked off Doane in match play, 2-1, during its spring break trip to Fort Myers, Fla. The Tigers currently sit second in the GPAC standings. The pairs of Otten and Zikas and Ehresman and senior Garrett Suchanek claimed wins to sink Doane.

The program has also received a boost from upgrades to the indoor hitting center, located on the southeast part of campus. The Bulldogs now have the use of an 18-by-8 foot putting green as well as a launch monitor. Said Muller, “That made our winter practices much more meaningful rather than just hitting the ball into the net. We can actually see what the ball’s doing and see how far it’s going. We can see the flight of the ball, whether it’s going right, left or straight.”

The first tournament gets underway on Saturday when the Bulldogs hit the course in Hesston, Kan., for the Bethel Invite. The two-day meet will continue on Sunday in Newton, Kan. View the complete schedule HERE.