Golf team’s high hopes dashed out East

Inexperience thwarted the Gaels’ season-ending tournament as they aimed to leave a lasting impression on the national stage.

Mike Hossack tees off at the University/College Championship at Kingswood Park in Fredericton
Image supplied by: Supplied Photo by Sean Lackey
Mike Hossack tees off at the University/College Championship at Kingswood Park in Fredericton

The Queen’s golf team met unfamiliar competition and bad weather at the 2010 Canadian University/College Championship in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The tournament, played at Kingswood Park from May 31 to June 2, was limited to three rounds when the final day was cancelled due to unplayable conditions.

Throughout the season, the men’s team struggled with inexperience and the loss of captain Patrick Forbes. They looked to the University/College Golf Championship as a way to make a final stand before the end of the season.

With their sights set on making the cut, the men’s team fell short shooting a 55 over par and placing 17th in a 20 team field. Sean Lackey, a third year member of the team, told the Journal in an email that it was the first appearance for three members of the five member team.

“In order to be competitive in an event like this, you need all five guys to be on their game and posting good numbers,” he said. “Bringing a relatively young team to the event, it’s difficult to gauge how guys will handle their first time on the big stage.”

Rookie Matt Courchene was able to push most of his nerves away as he led the Gaels individually with a score of 221 and finished tied for 18th. Lackey said Courchene’s talent plus the experience he’s gained this year will make him an exciting member of the Queen’s golf program.

“Experience goes a long way in getting good results,” said the Kingston native. “Especially in golf, where the season is only six weeks and rookies are adjusting to new surroundings and getting used to balancing school and golf.”

At more than 7,000 yards, the course was longer than what the Gaels generally play in Ontario. Finishing tied for 42nd with a score of 227, Lackey explained that being a short hitter, he had his work cut out for him.

“Coming into the event I was somewhat apprehensive of the length of the golf course,” he said. “Fortunately I was able to make a lot of birdies and the result was three solid scores.”

The women’s team was coming off of a dominating season which saw them win six straight gold medals. In their first-year as a varsity team, fourth year Kate Burnett told the Journal an email that she knew they could win but remained humble about their achievements.

“Six gold medals were unexpected, however we knew that we would be competitive in the OUA given our performance in the 2008 season,” she said. “In this season, we were top three in every tournament and so we knew with our hard work and the individual potential of the golfers on the team that we could do well.”

Their first appearance in a national championship did not meet the expectations of the team but Burnett said they showed the Canadian university golf community they deserved to be there.

“Though some players felt they did not play as well as they were hoping, [but] the overall team performance was excellent,” she said. “Since this was our first national championship, the course and competition brought with them challenges that we have not faced prior to this tournament as a team.”

Fourth year student Casey Ward said in an email to the Journal that the bouts of rain throughout the weekend affected the playing conditions.

“The greens were difficult with lots of undulations, and were playing very at firm at the beginning of the week, but softened up with the rain in the second round,” she said. “Players were required to think their way around the golf course, in terms of where to place shots, particularly on the large greens.”

Coming into their first tournament outside the OUA, the women’s team was unsure what to expect. Ward said their performance during the year had given them high hopes.

“Our team has much more depth than most of the other teams in the OUA, with our top four girls having significant competitive golf experience outside of Queen’s,” she said. “Our team … had the potential to have four players scoring in the 70’s.”

The women’s championship is dominated by the University of British Columbia who have won the tournament seven times in the last eight years. Factors like weather and funding contribute to their great play.

“Obviously playing out West they have a much longer golf season than we do,” she said. “That means more opportunities to play and practice, whereas our season starts in September and ends in October.” Head Coach Bert Kea credited the Gaels’ string of wins on their attitude. Although golf is an individual sport, Ward said that the support of teammates is important.

“It was very important to know that we could count on each other to play well each week,” she said. “Some of our players have a more serious attitude, while others are quite easy-going. Overall, we always try to keep things light and not put too much pressure on ourselves.”

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