After more than four months away from competitive collegiate golf, the Stetson University men’s golf team will open its six-event spring season at the Gary Freeman/Bethune-Cookman Spring Invitational.
The tournament will include two rounds of play on Sunday at the Halifax Plantation Golf Club in Ormand Beach and will conclude with a final round of play on Monday.
The field for the men’s tournament includes 12 teams. The field includes teams from the U.S. Military Academy (Army), Benedict College, host Bethune-Cookman, Edward Waters College, Florida A&M, Florida Atlantic, Hampton College, Laval University, Rollins College, Savannah State and St. Bonaventure, in addition to Stetson.
There will also be seven women’s teams in competition in a separate tournament.
The squad for the Hatters will include freshmen Dustin Dingus, Andrew Peterson and Michael Primavera along with sophomore Matt Taylor and junior Tyler White.
Head coach Bob Weickel, who is entering his final spring as the Hatters’ coach, said he has higher expectations for the spring.
“We are certainly hoping to do better this spring than we did in the fall,” Weickel said. “We have so many young fellows on the team that we struggled some in the fall.”
The Hatters will be led by Dingus, who proved to be the teams’ most consistent player in the fall. In five fall events, Dingus posted a 73.07 scoring average to earn three top 10 finishes. He didn’t take a break from the game while the Hatters were between seasons, earning a top 10 finish at the New Year’s Eve Invitational, besting three Division I All-Americans in the process.
The freshman has more modest expectations for the Hatters this spring.
“I think it would be great for our team to break 900 this weekend,” Dingus said. “I think we will do better this spring than we did in the fall and I expect to see us get at least one top five finish.”
As the only upperclassman in the field this weekend, Matt Taylor said he expects to see better play because of the experience the team gained in the fall.
“I am hoping we can build on some of the good scores we had in the fall,” Taylor said. “We were a very inexperienced team in the fall and that showed with some very good scores as well as some very bad rounds. If we can get more consistent, as a team, we will see a lot of progress.”
One thing he definitely wants is to see the team play better for its retiring coach.
“We really want to give Coach Weickel a great spring to remember in his last year,” Taylor said.
While most of the Hatters had plenty of time to work on their game during the winter break, that was not the case for Peterson, a native of Minnesota. He was limited to working at indoor facilities in his home state over the break.
“I got to work on my game here before leaving for Christmas break, but didn’t get to practice much once I got home,” Peterson said. “Since I got back to school I have worked hard on getting back in the swing of things and improving my mental game and consistency.”
Three of the Hatters – White, Taylor and Primavera – played in the Dixie Amateur at Coral Springs during the break. None of the three advanced to play in the final round, but Taylor battled back from a bad first round to post back-to-back scores of 71 to finish with a 224. White finished with a 229 while Primavera finished with a 232.
In addition to the opening event this weekend, the Hatters will compete in the Charleston (SC) Shootout March 4-5, the Mission Inn Spectacular at Howie-in-the-Hills on March 16-17, the FAU Spring Break Championship in Lake Worth March 29-31 and the Wofford Invitational April 15-16 before the A-Sun Championship Tournament in Braselton, Ga., April 21-23.