Local start for men’s golf
The Idaho men’s golf team is back on the links this week as the Vandals head just down the road to Pullman for their season-opening tournament.Before the season even got underway, coach John Means and the Vandals faced difficulties as NCAA eligibility regulations may keep sophomore Sean McMullen from participating in the Palouse Collegiate.
“I have three options: one option is to play the tournament as individuals only, one option is to play as a team and hope that one of those guys in the five, six spot can play up to the level that Sean can play at, I mean Sean is a great player. Or number three is we cancel out of the tournament,” Means said.
With 11 tournaments on their schedule this year, and NCAA rules stating they have to participate in eight, the Vandals have some wiggle room to skip out on a tournament, but with a tournament so close to home, it wasn’t an easy decision for Means.
“Palouse Ridge for us is like a home golf course, I mean if we don’t know that golf course as well as Washington State University, we are right there,” Means said. “We practice out there all the time. We play out there quite a bit, it’s like playing a home event and I really don’t want to lose that advantage of playing that home event, which is probably the most perplexing thing: If we were going to play in Colorado this week it would be easy decision for me to say ‘no, we’re not going, ’ but this is a home event.”
Despite graduating three seniors last year, Means said that he feels like this year’s team has the potential to be better than last year’s team. He believes senior Gordon Webb, sophomore Zachary Wanderscheid and McMullen all have the chance to go out and win tournaments this year. Also beneficial to the Vandals will be the talent of redshirt freshman Dylan Baker and sophomore Aaron Cockerill.
The Vandals will lack experience on a team that contains only one senior.
Webb was chosen as the captain of the team and he said that role has been made easier by a group of guys who do their jobs.
“I don’t really feel that much pressure because I know we have a solid team…they take the pressure off me because I can just go out there and play my game because I know what they are capable of doing,” Webb said.
Another asset the Vandals are going to have going into the season is one of last year’s graduating seniors, Stefan Richardson, returning to the team as an assistant.
Richardson’s arrival marks the first assistant Means has had since taking the job as head coach at Idaho.
“He just started and I’m already thinking about how bad it is going to be when he’s gone.”
According to Means, having an assistant has allowed him to give more emphasis to his players and less on having to set up practices and taking care of uniforms.
The Palouse Collegiate takes place Sept. 10-11. For full results of the tournament, read Friday’s Argonaut or visit uiargonaut.com
Jacob Dyer can be reached at email@example.com