Lawrence golf: the future is now

Ben Rosenblatt

The future looks bright for the young and talented Lawrence University men’s golf team.
Lawrence is led by their senior captain and No. 1 player Ryan Knox. Rounding out the lineup are junior Sebastian Specks, sophomore transfer Jim Breen, and freshmen Tom Vyskocil, Adam Ferguson, and Andrew Russell.
Before each weekend tournament, the men must compete against one another to see who will qualify for the upcoming tournament. Each team is only allowed to bring five golfers to each event.
One might think such competition among peers would intimidate the younger players, but not these guys. Vyskocil and Ferguson have played in every tournament this year, while Russell has qualified for all but one.
The Vikings’ young talent has been evident in qualifying rounds as well as in tournaments. The grind of a two-day 36-hole tournament can be a daunting step up for freshmen, who are used to playing nine-hole matches in high school.
These freshmen have handled the step up to collegiate golf with relative ease, making their coach both proud of their current success and excited for the future.
Head coach Joel DePagter speaks highly of his three freshmen and their passion for golf. “They are dedicated freshmen. Golf is their first sport and they go above and beyond what is expected of them.”
In Ferguson’s first collegiate round he carded a 75, the best round of any LU golfer this season. Vyskocil finished tied for ninth in last week’s Ripon Invitational, the best finish of the year for a Viking.
Lawrence’s tournaments are generally held at the same courses each year, which puts a great emphasis on experience. Having three freshmen compete in tournaments now will make them savvier in years to come.
DePagter believes experience is a key factor in attaining success. “As you play the same courses each year, you become more familiar with them and gain a lot of experience. The freshmen are the future of the golf team.”
On such a young and talented team, there needs to be a seasoned veteran who can lead and inspire his teammates. His name is Ryan Knox, a senior from Milton, Wis.
DePagter has recently been named head coach of the men’s basketball team, which brings a lot of other obligations along with it, often times leaving him at a loss for time with the golf team.
Knox’s ability to help schedule practices and fulfill other coaching duties, while also participating in events has been a godsend for the team.
Coach DePagter is well aware of the team’s need for a leader and is no doubt thankful he has one. “Ryan has taken a very active roll on this team and been a great leader.”
Knox molds his role as a leader after his favorite athlete Brett Favre. Both Knox and his hero face similar challenges as they are surrounded by less experienced, but extremely talented teammates.
The Vikings look to return to their success of 2006, a year in which they won the coveted North Division Championship. The team believes they can accomplish such a goal and possibly even more down the road.
The core of their team will be around for three more years, a fact that should send shivers down the spines of any opponents.