The Stetson Hatters’ two-week vacation from outside competition will come to an end as the calendar turns to March.
The Hatters will play in three events, in three different cities, during the first week of the new month. The team will open a hectic week on Saturday at the Forest Hills Collegiate in Augusta, Ga. They’ll follow up by playing in the Harmony Golf Preserve Intercollegiate March 3-5 before facing Illinois-Chicago in a dual match on March 7 in Sorrento, Fla.
The flurry of competition follows a grueling series of qualifying rounds for the team members.
“The team went thru 45 holes of qualifying to determine the final three spots for the six-man team,” head coach Larry Watson said.
Three spots on the travel squad belong to junior co-captain Matt Taylor along with sophomores Dustin Dingus and David Torres. They were exempt from qualifying based on their individual performances at the Gary Freeman Invitational to open the spring season.
"I was really glad to see Andrew make the traveling squad," Watson said. "Andrew started very strong last spring but then ran into some swing problems. He kept working hard on his swing and was rewarded by gaining the number four spot.”
While only six members of the 11-man squad qualified to compete in Augusta and at Harmony Preserve, all 11 will compete in the match against Illinois-Chicago.
“I know some of the players on our team are disappointed not to have qualified, but that is part of golf and we all know it,” Watson said. “We don't like to miss out but, for most of us, it makes us more determined and sends us back to the practice tee with renewed determination.”
Watson said some of the players who missed the cut for the travel squad are working through similar issues as Peterson did.
“A few of our players are struggling with swing issues right now,” Watson said. “That happens, but we will work that out. A couple of the boys just had one or two bad holes in a round. It hurts to be so close but miss. I know they will be right back out practicing tomorrow."
The Hatters leave Thursday for their trip to Augusta, Ga., where they will play 36 holes of competition on Saturday. The Forest Hills Collegiate is hosted by Georgia Regents University (formerly Augusta State College) and will include teams from the host school as well as Gardner-Webb, North Carolina Central, Northern Illinois, USC Upstate and Youngstown State.
The one-day event will be played at Forest Hills Golf Club, which was originally designed by Donald Ross in 1926 and redesigned by Arnold Palmer in 2004.
After playing 36 holes on Saturday, the Hatters will head straight to the Harmony Preserve Intercollegiate where they will play a practice round on Sunday before beginning that event on Monday with 36-holes of play. Other teams in the tournament are Florida Gulf Coast, Florida Atlantic, Villanova and Northwood. Live scoring for the tournament will be available on www.golfstat.com.
The Hatters will wrap up a busy week on Friday, March 7, with a one-day head-to-head match with Loyola of Chicago at the RedTail Golf Club in Sorrento, Fla.
"I am excited about the head-to-head match with Loyola of Chicago, because all the boys will play in that competition,” Watson said. “This should give the entire team a boost as they'll be playing on one of their favorite Central Florida courses."