Stetson University’s men’s golf team welcomed the two newest members to the squad to campus this week as the Hatters begin preparation for their season-opening tournament, scheduled to begin September 7 at Pawley’s Island, SC.
Freshmen Spencer Turner and Chase Levesque took part in freshmen orientation and Focus before beginning their collegiate education on Thursday with the rest of the Stetson students. The two newcomers join eight returning players for Coach Larry Watson’s second season.
The Hatters will make their third consecutive appearance in The Golfweek Program Challenge, being played again this year at the Litchfield Beach Golf Resort. The 54-hole event will also feature the Stetson women’s team, who will be playing on the same dates.
Other schools scheduled to play in the event are James Madison, Campbell, Houston Baptist, Gardner-Webb, Jacksonville State, Furman, Akron, Old Dominion, Northern Iowa, Jacksonville and Valparaiso.
The men will play at the True Blue Golf Plantation while the women will tee it up at the Caledonia Golf & Fish Resort. The Stetson men finished 12th in the event each of the last two years while the women finished fourth last year and 10th in 2011.
Watson is pleased with the returning players as well as his two newest squad members.
“I am very happy with the effort everyone put in over the summer break,” Watson said. “Dirk Kuehler played very well this summer and had a very successful trip to Europe, where he played in two events in Whales and finished very well in each event. Dustin Dingus had a good summer with some very low scores and the opportunity to play in some prestigious team events.”
Kuehler’s trip overseas should pay dividends for him during the college season. He played in both The Welsh Open and The Welsh Open Youth Championship. He tied for 32nd in the first event, and tied for 15th in the second.
“Competition is what all the players on our squad need to improve,” Watson said. “I am sure the success that Dirk enjoyed in the two events will help him play well in our events this fall. The most important thing for all the members on our squad was to play in as many events over the summer as possible so, now that they are back at school, they should be hitting on all cylinders.”
With Kuehler, a sophomore, and Dingus, a junior, leading the way, the Hatters expect to continue moving up the Atlantic Sun Conference leaderboard in the spring.
“I think the boys had a good summer and worked very hard,” Watson said. “They know what has to be done to compete at the upper level of our league. Now, our schedule is growing in terms of competition, so we have a lot of work and growing to do as a team. I am confident these young men want to excel at the highest level. Winning isn’t easy at this level, they certainly know that.”
The Hatters fall schedule includes trips to play in the Cardinal Intercollegiate Classic in Louisville, Ky., the BCU Fall Invitational at Daytona Beach, the WKU Kenny Perry Invitational at Bowling Green, Ky., and the FGCU Old Corkscrew Intercollegiate in Naples before wrapping up at the Stetson Invitational at Victoria Hills the first week of Nevember.
“They’ve had the summer away from classes to work on their games and put it to tournament test,” Watson said. “That is the way you learn and improve, see how you stack up and how your swing holds up under pressure. I want all our players to challenge their games.”