Posted in Sports

Golf team rises from the ashes

Coach John Buchanan has been able to turn the team from an afterthought to a powerhouse

Last season was a highly successful one for both the men’s and women’s golf team. The men finished sixth nationally and won its first ever GNAC title, while the women finished third in the GNAC championship. All of this after having to restart the program six years ago, when the program was reinstated.

“The first three years, we could not go to postseason play as per NCAA Division II rules. So we’d get walk-on players, guys that by today’s standards were poor players, none of them would make the team,” explained head coach John Buchanan.

“We had no money. We weren’t getting any scholarship money, we hadn’t raised any money. [It was] just like reinventing the wheel. But it was a matter of give us some time, just to get traction again. Then when we got into our third year, the kids could see within a year or two they got a chance to go to postseason play. We became more attractive offer [to recruits . . .] and once we turned that corner, then the quality of player coming in just rose accordingly.”

The men’s team in particular has been a great example of the rise of the program. It all culminated last season when the team won the GNAC title, a first for the program.

“We set a tournament record [for largest margin of victory]. We beat the perennial champions, Western Washington [. . .] hopefully you can repeat it, but everyone recruits same as us. I’m quite sure there will be some changes in some of the teams.”

The women’s team had a terrific season last year as well, finishing third in the GNAC championship, with all four of the team members placing in the top 16. Despite this, it may be harder for the women’s team to eventually reach the same heights as the men’s team. “Relative to men, there aren’t that many women playing golf [. . .] if you are an A or A+ [recruit], you are probably going to go to on a full scholarship to an American university.

“As we gain traction with the women’s team, then we’ll probably end up getting some athletes who maybe for a variety of reasons don’t really want to leave home [. . .] but if a girl’s really good, then she’s liable to be snapped up by one of the major schools.”

Coach Buchanan has brought in three new recruits to try and solidify his position within the GNAC and Division II. Mitchell MacLeod is the only male recruited this year, and despite being only being 18 years old, made the Ontario Willingdon Cup team. “To have a player who was good enough at that young age was a find, and he elected to come to SFU.” Emily Leung was the top ranked junior lady from Hong Kong, and Belinda Lin attended Semiahmoo Secondary and has a lot of potential.

The men’s first tournament is the Saint Martin’s University Invitational from September 18th to 19th, while the women will compete in the same tournament from October 9th to 10th.

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