Members of the Missouri State University-West Plains club golf team performed "well" at its first National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II Men's Golf Championships, held May 22-25 at the Goose Pond Colony Resort in Scottsboro, Ala.
"They had an excellent trip," volunteer coach Phil Wade said. "Everyone played well for their first national tournament, and I was very pleased with their attitude. They represented Missouri State-West Plains well."
Although the club golf team is not officially affiliated with the NJCAA, its five members were allowed to compete as individuals in the four-day tournament, which featured 131 participants from 21 teams.
Top finisher for the Grizzlies was Ben Knight of West Plains who completed the par-72 course in a four-way tie for 33rd.
He shot rounds of 73, 73, 78, 73 for a 9-over-par 297 total.
Layne Hawkins and Brett Ward, both of Thayer, finished in a six-way tie for 90th.
Hawkins shot rounds of 80, 79, 77 and 80 for a total of 316, while Ward turned in rounds of 76, 78, 76 and 86 for the 316 total.
M.J. Clark, also of Thayer, finished in a tie for 102nd with a four-day total of 320.
He shot rounds of 83, 79, 79 and 79.
Jordan Slayton of Mountain Grove finished in a four-way tie for 105th by shooting rounds of 83, 82, 79, and 78 for a total of 322.
Although he was pleased with his players' performances, Wade pointed out their efforts may have been somewhat hampered by the course itself.
"This was a different type of course than we're used to. Bermuda grass was used on the greens, and our players usually compete on bent grass greens. All of our players hit the ball well, but they struggled to get the ball in the hole. Ben and Brett seem to adapt to the change better and, therefore, had better scores," Wade explained.
As a team, the Grizzlies finished in a tie for 16th.
Wade said that was a feat the Grizzlies and their supporters should be proud of, considering they are a first-year team in a field of approximately 110 NJCAA teams.
Three of the team's five members will be returning for the 2007-08 season, Wade said.
They include Knight, Hawkins and Slayton.
Clark and Ward will be transferring to other campuses due to academic needs, Wade explained.
Some impressive talent could be joining the team next year, including Adam Elmore and Chris Evans, both of Willow Springs, and Punkie Stevenson and Jesse Guilliams, both of Mountain View-Birch Tree Liberty High School.
Evans, Wade said, won the Missouri Class 2 District 6 Championship this year, and Class 2 State Championship results on the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) web site show Stevenson finished in a three-way tie for 14th and Guilliams finished in a four-way tie for 99th.
Wade said he'd also like to "thank everyone for supporting our program. We had a great first year, and the young men appreciated the opportunity to play so close to home. We're looking forward to next year."