Finishing on top

Ferris men’s golf begins the spring season with first tournament win

Ferris senior Jack Weller tees off during the GLIAC North Invitational at home last September. Weller shot a 68 the second day of the Saginaw Valley State University Spring Invite in Kentucky Saturday, March 16, and Sunday, March 17, and 139 through both days. Photo by: Samantha Cavotta | Torch Photographer

Despite the cold Michigan weather, the Ferris men’s golf season doesn’t stop, and they had recent success to the start of the spring season.

The Bulldogs traveled to Georgetown, Kentucky, where they participated in the Saginaw Valley State University Spring Invite Saturday, March 16, and Sunday, March 17. With a strong second day performance, they brought home their first tournament win of the season.

“With the senior leadership on the team, I think the success was pieced together from all the experience in past events,” Ferris senior golfer Andrew Hammett said. “All of the events we play are building blocks to our Regional tournament, which is our primary focus.”

On day one of the tournament, the Bulldogs finished in seventh place, nine strokes behind first place. Ferris freshman Tom Hursey, sophomores Andrew Proctor and Jason Martinus, and seniors Hammett and Jack Weller were able to bounce back from the slow start and shoot a team score of 276 — 15 better than their day one final. They took first place with a combined score of 567, six strokes better than the second place finisher.

All of the golfers besides one had a better score on day two than day three, with two golfers shooting under 70. Ferris’ own Hammett shot the lowest round of all the competitors with a 66 during the final round. This score would earn Hammett Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Player of the Week honors.

When the Bulldogs traveled to Kentucky, they saw a weather change that was 20 degrees warmer than in Big Rapids. With golf being an outdoor sport where you can only compete on the course, the Bulldogs are out of luck since snow covers the course for about half of the competitive season. The team has to adjust their training in the winter to keep them ready for tournaments in warmer areas in the winter and early spring, according to Hammett.

“Throughout the winter, we work hard on building strength, stamina and mental toughness to prepare for the upcoming season,” Hammett said. “Golf is a mentally challenging sport with a high demand of focus. To perform our best, we train by pushing ourselves to our max mentally and physically. We typically have a two-month break that allows us to rest and work on our games individually, which will move into the spring season.”

Recently, the Ken Janke Sr. Golf Learning Center opened up at Katke Golf Course, Ferris’ home course. This facility includes three heated indoor hitting bays, an indoor putting green and four TrackMan golf simulators, all of which will be in use during the cold winters to keep players’ game consistent. Ferris golfers believe that this new facility will bring nothing but benefits toward the golf program.

“The new training facility will be amazing for the Ferris State golf program,” Ferris senior golfer Ryan Bayer said. “All the freshmen and sophomores will have the best facility in the Midwest to practice at, and any recruits coming in the future will be confident coming here knowing they can get better through the winter months.”

Though the weather may seem to put the Bulldogs at a disadvantage, Ferris men’s golf head coach Kyle Wittenbach said the weather has no factor on how the team competes.

“Champions are champions, regardless of their status, location, facilities, background,” Wittenbach said. “Champions will find a way to succeed no matter what obstacles they face. Warm weather, facilities, access or other perceived advantages do not create champions; they simply give the perception that they do.”

Through the year, Ferris has placed anywhere from second place to seventh place with this invitational being their first 1st place finish on the year. With close finishes, it was only a matter of time until the team nished in the top spot, Bayer said.

The Bulldogs returned to Kentucky to play in the Findlay Spring Invite Monday, March 25, and Tuesday, March 26, and results can be found on the Ferris Athletics website.