It was a very emotional weekend for the Lawrence Golf team, who competed in their final Midwest Conference Championship as a varsity sport. The team was able to place seventh over the three-day, 54-hole match.
As he has for much of his time at Lawrence, junior Nigel Schuster led the charge for the Vikings. He tied for sixth out of the more than 45 competitors. This earned him All-Conference honors for the second year in a row.
Unfortunately for the team, they will not be returning to the Midwest Conference Championship next year, as the University has opted to cut funding for golf as a varsity sport. This had been decided well before the spring golf season began, so the team was aware all season long. “[The weekend] was kind of sucky because all the guys knew it was over. So we really tried to go out and prove that we’re actually a decent golf team,” said Sophomore Ryan Clark, “kind of like we deserve to be a sport.”
The mentality taken into a competition can undoubtedly swing the outcome, and in the case of a sport like golf, where physical prowess does not necessarily translate to success, mental fortitude becomes all the more important. To elaborate, Clark continued, “You have to control your emotions, and tame your brain. If something gets to you too quickly, things can go downhill real fast.”
The Vikings did not let their emotions impede their abilities, however, and for the most part improved their round scores each day. Their mentality was to place one spot better than expected, and this was the outcome for most cases.
Moving forward, golf will likely become a club sport beginning with the 2016-17 season. While this means that competitions are still available, it comes with drastic changes to the team identity. To say that the team will miss the experience is an understatement: “It was really rough on the ride home when it set in,” said Clark, “We listened to some really sad songs in the van.”
Unfortunately for the Vikings, there is no experience next year to compare with the varsity team that has been lost. This does not mean, however, that the individuals have given up on their sport. As always, the most important shot is still the next one.