The Taylor men’s and women’s golf teams wrapped up their fall season last week at Whistling Straits Golf Course in Wisconsin. The event took place on Oct. 21–22.
The NAIA 5th-ranked women’s team finished first of five teams, shooting 645 during the two-day event. The Trojans fired a 338 last Monday in round one, and a 307 the next day in round two amidst difficult conditions. Taylor knocked off No. 1 ranked Keiser University in the process.
Senior Maddie Thomas led the Trojans with consecutive 18-hole rounds below 80, the only competitor in the women’s tournament to accomplish the feat. Her total score of 154 was enough for a 10-stroke victory as an individual. Thomas was followed by junior Nicole Jung’s 164, senior Annie Stimmel’s 165, junior Taylor French’s 166 and junior Rachel Coers’ 174.
The men’s team finished seventh of 20 teams, shooting a 682 total score between the two days. While their round-one score of 348 was good enough to put them in fourth place after the first round, they slipped to 7th after a 334 in the second round.
Senior Nate Morris led the men’s team with an 82 in round one and an 81 in round two. Morris’ score was followed by freshman Drew Pickering and junior Brady Roberts, who both carded a 172. Sophomore Jason Iler and freshman Erik Fahlen rounded out the top five for Taylor with scores of 175 and 190, respectively.
The conditions led to unusually high scores during the event, with low temperatures and wind causing an already-difficult Whistling Straits course to play much harder.
“It’s a tough golf course anyway, even in perfect conditions,” Head Coach Cam Andry said. “You add in temperatures in the 40s, 30 to 40 mph wind and rain the whole day Monday, and you’re going to hit good shots that end up in horrible spots.”
The weather did not seem to phase Thomas though, as the All-American found a way to put together an amazing round Monday while dealing with the conditions.
“Honestly, it was one of those tournaments where you look back and you’re like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I just did that,’” Thomas said.
Thomas said she felt her team embraced the weather and the conditions more than their competition, which helped them keep confidence even when their scores were being affected by outside influences.
While the men’s team did not have as good of a performance, they still finished a strong 7th in a 20-team field.
“I think we are capable of better than that,” Andry said of the men’s team. “But the reality is we have a very inexperienced group. Hopefully we use it as a learning experience, but these guys continue to grow.”
Andry commended the way Morris performed in the conditions, much like he did with Thomas. He said that Morris’ experience allowed him to limit big numbers like double and triple bogeys, which were common across the field during the tournament.
“The 82 the first day was a pretty good score,” Morris said. “I feel like I left some shots out there the second day but overall it was one of the hardest tests I’ve faced on the golf course and I was proud of how I competed.”
Now, focus turns to the offseason and upcoming spring season for both teams.
Andry knows both teams can win the conference and advance to nationals, but instead of setting specific goals, he said he wants the team to focus on the process.
“We have three goals as a team,” Andry said. “Number one is to love the Lord, number two is to love your teammates and number three is love and respect the game. If each player tries to do these things, we’re going to be in really good shape.”
If the past few seasons are any indication, both teams are capable of doing damage in the spring season. The men’s team is coming off of four consecutive Crossroads League championships, with the women having won the past three.
After this season's success, the Trojans are hungry for more in the spring.
“Our team has a ton of talent,” Morris said of the men’s team. “And a byproduct of us daily and intentionally getting better in these areas will result in a conference and national championship. No doubt.”
Thomas feels the same about the women’s side, saying that after knocking off the No. 1 team and having a strong fall season, a national championship is a realistic goal.
For these two very successful teams, expectations are high. The Trojans will resume play this Spring, with both teams seeking to continue their conference dominance.