By Michael Evanko
The Youngstown State University men’s golf team starts their season in Verona, New York, at the Turning Stone Tiger Intercollegiate Tournament hosted by the University of Missouri.
The Penguins previously played in this same tournament one year ago, finishing 10th.
The team is led by junior Kevin Scherr, who shot 79-73-72 in three rounds for a total of 224. This will be Scherr’s third time playing on this course in his college career.
“I was pleased with my last two rounds last year. Just trying to get that first round fixed and stay consistent around par is a real good goal and sort of like a pace setter for the rest of the season,” Scherr said.
While some members of the team have played this course in the past, this will be a first for freshman Cole Christman.
“I know nothing about this course, but I know there’s going to be a lot of great teams there,” Christman said. “We’re going to have to put it together, and I think we can do it.”
While golf presents its own set of challenges, this course offers no room for error. It’s known for being the second-hardest golf course in New York.
“There’s a lot of trouble, hazards and fescue on the course,” Scherr said. “Last year the fescue was all grown up, but the year before it wasn’t. So it’ll be like a surprise when we get there.”
Coach Tony Joy said he knows what obstacles the team faces heading into this weekend.
“It’s what they call a links-style course, not a lot of trees, but a lot of fescue,” he said. “If you get out of line or get off the fairways, you’re in real high grass, which automatically is like a penalty, you almost have to take the penalty drop to get out.”
For players facing this troubling course, consistency is a key component in a successful round.
“My consistency has always been my strong suit,” Scherr said. “I’ve been staying steady with that. Putting is one of my weaknesses. It’s always basically everyone’s weakness. If I can just throw in a few more that I don’t expect to make, that’d be what I would be hoping for this weekend.”
Christman also worked on improving his short game.
“Specifically, my putting,” Christman said. “It’s a lot easier. It’s easier to scramble and make birdies now that I fixed my short game.”
Joy said he has high expectations of his team this season after almost taking home the Horizon League championship last season.
“We played really well in the conference championship last spring, with about four or five holes to play, we actually had the lead,” Joy said. “So, the kids have tasted what it’s like to be that close to winning a conference championship, and with almost everybody being back on the team, my expectations, obviously, it’ll be very competitive.”
These lofty expectations aren’t only coming from the coach, but from the players themselves.
“I’m going to work and be the best that I can … and I know these guys will do the same,” Christman said.
Scherr echoed his teammate’s sentiment.
“I expect good things,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of top Division I teams there, but if we can just finish like, a little bit below them or around them, that’d be fantastic. We definitely have the capabilities to do that.”
The men will be playing 36 holes over a two-day span on Sunday and Monday. Look for the Penguins to improve upon last year’s 10th place finish behind the strokes of Kevin Scherr and Cole Christman.