Men's golf sputters in final match of MIAA play

Senior Jon Kalmink takes a look at his tee shot at Thornapple Creek golf club.

by andrea schutter

Associate Sports Editor

In one of the most intense MIAA men's golf chases in Calvin's history, the final league outing of the year ended a three-way battle between Calvin College, Hope College, and Olivet College.

An outstanding season brought Calvin to Thornapple Creek Golf Club in Kalamazoo on Tuesday afternoon to fight for an MIAA title. Calvin's bid for its first-ever MIAA championship came up short as the Knights took third in the competition with score of 412, placing them third in the final league standings with a final team total of 2793.

Heading into Tuesday's competition, Calvin held second place, only five strokes behind Hope and three strokes ahead of third place Olivet. Two-time defending MIAA champion Hope rose to the challenge as the Flying Dutchmen took first place with a team score of 393 strokes while Olivet took second with a team score of 402 strokes. Hope finished 34 strokes ahead of Calvin in the final league standing, but Calvin averaged an impressive 399.0 strokes-per-round for the season.

Along with the other league schools, Calvin struggled with the brisk winds and slick putting surfaces. ``It was a very hard course...you could get into a lot of trouble, and we did it,'' said Coach Jim Timmer. Despite the difficult course and strong competition, the Knights shot with enthusiasm and stamina. One of the top teams in the league, Calvin had its sights set on a championship title, and each team member displayed great preparation and confidence in their abilities.

``We were prepared, we practiced hard, and we were ready for the match,'' confirmed Coach Timmer. ``For an individual sport, the guys had a great team concept, and that was what took us this far.'' The Knights weren't able to steal the victory from Hope this time around, but their determination will continue to bring success.

Coach Timmer was added, ``Hope had a terrific performance, but they also had to play very well to beat us. We knew that the team that stepped up the most would win the league championship. Hope was that team.'' Coach Timmer commended the Knights on their hard work and dedication. ``We gave it our best shot...we have an excellent team, and that in itself is a great accomplishment.''

Junior Tony Karsten was Calvin's leader Tuesday with a round of 79, which was good for fifth place individually. Senior Jon Kalmink shot a round of 80 to finish second-best. With an exceptional finish on Tuesday, Kalmink took third place in the final individual league standings with an average of 78.0 strokes-per-round. This score matches the fifth-best single-season average in Calvin men's golf history. For the first time in his career, his efforts landed him a spot on the All-MIAA 1st team. He expressed his disappointment in the season's conclusion, but he felt that the team pulled together to make for an exciting league race.

``Last year we finished second in the league, and Hope lost a few players, so we thought we had a good chance of winning,'' said Kalmink. ``The course was tough, and it was hard to make shots, but everyone out there had to deal with the same thing.'' Even though the season has come to an end, the Knights feel solid as a team and optimistic for future conquests.

The Flying Dutchmen will remain at the top of their list of competitors. ``Hope had an impressive score, and I'm glad they won in convincing fashion,'' stated Kalmink. He admires the Knights for their all-around skill and persistence, but most of all, he values the friendships that help them work together for a championship title.

``If you're happy with who you play with, the game is more fun.'' Senior Bryan Hoekstra was the third-best finisher for the Knights with a round of 83. Hoekstra finished fifth in the final individual standings with an average of 79.0 strokes-per-round, joining Kalmink on the All-MIAA 1st team for the first time in his career. His score matches the 10th-best average in men's golf history at Calvin.

Rounding out Calvin's finishers were sophomore Ryan Brandsma with an 83; senior Adam Derrickson with an 88 and freshman Mike Bratt with a 91. Karsten, Brandsma, and Derrickson all earned spots on the All-MIAA 2nd team as Karsten finished seventh in the final league standings (80.4); Brandsma ninth (81.3) and Derrickson 12th (81.7). It marked the second consecutive year that Karsten has earned a spot on the All-MIAA 2nd team.

Five individuals earned either 1st or 2nd team All-MIAA honors, producing Calvin's highest single-season all-conference total. This year indicated the second time that Calvin has placed two individuals on the All-MIAA 1st team, joining the 1965 season when Calvin placed two individuals on the All-MIAA 1st team. Calvin's final team average of 399.0 strokes-per-round was the second-best single-season average in school history, exceeded only by Calvin's 1998 average of 398.1 strokes-per-round. Hoekstra, Derrickson, and Kalmink also earned medallist honors during the season and instituted a course-record score of 382 at Watermark, the fifth league outing of the year.