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Michigan State co-ed club golf time finds itself part of the sport’s pandemic boom

Brendan Britz
Brendan Britz
All three competitive teams pose for a group photo after a win in their first tournament September 25 and 26 at Western Greens Golf Club in Marne, Mich.

Golf is really hot. Which is good, and bad, for MSU’s club golf team. What happens when too many want to join your club? You work it out.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – It’s the start of a new school year, and so begins the rapid influx of emails from clubs seeking members to join and/or try out. In a normal year, there would be a few eager freshmen and some returning upperclassmen showing up, but not many more.

In Michigan State’s return to in-person classes, this is definitely not a normal year.

Try nearly 300 students showing up this fall to try out for MSU’s club golf team, a co-ed organization operating under the National Collegiate Club Golf Association. It’s a registered student organization, both funded and run by students. This season, the competitive teams will play in three tournaments, with a chance to compete at nationals in November.

Maybe it was inevitable with two new classes of people on campus. Most spent the summer improving their game, ready to take the plunge and play competitively.

But the numbers are baffling for the club golf team, as it tries to navigate the most interest they’ve ever had for the game.

“It’s honestly just crazy,” said Ian McMaster, MSU senior and club golf co-president.

The interest this fall comes as a shock, after barely scraping teams together in the spring,

“We went from 30 kids to 110,” said Brendan Britz, MSU senior and club golf co-president.

Brendan Britz
Brendan Britz
Brendan Britz hits his tee shot on a par three at Western Greens Golf Club.

The club held five separate tryouts, for nearly 300 players at both Forest Akers courses and College Fields. Coordinating tee times for hundreds is no easy task, but worth it to give everyone a fair chance at making the team.

“We are still having people email us almost every day saying they are interested and want to try out,” said McMaster.

But the teams are set with 24 total players, and there is no doubt it will be some of the fiercest competition in the NCCGA.

“When we say we have three competitive teams, we actually have three teams that will compete at every tournament,” said McMaster. “It’s pretty awesome.”

Not only is there a higher intrigue for the game, but the level of play is strong. After the second tryout, the cut line was 79 for the C-team; in years prior, it would have been mid-to-high 80s, pushing 90.

The last player to make the C-team averaged 81 through two 18-hole rounds.

“To have that good of scores, especially day one of tryouts, was awesome to see, but we weren’t expecting to have 15 plus kids shoot in the 70s the first day,” said McMaster. “These kids just came out firing darts all over the place.”

The A-team will average 75 or 76, the B-team, right behind them at 79 or 80, and the C team will fall in the low 80s. That’s a significant difference from the spring, where rounds finished in the mid-90s.

Brendan Britz
Brendan Britz
The individual medalists pose after a two-day event at Western Greens Golf Club.

Britz said the scores were so good they had to cut a majority of last year’s team.

Those who didn’t make the team, or don’t want to play competitively, have the option to participate in the club league, which runs every Friday for six weeks. But for a while, the league wasn’t on the club’s radar in fear that no one would be interested.

They…were wrong. Britz said 40-50 students have signed up just for league play.

The league creates a fun environment for students to play the sport they love while meeting new people and maybe learning a thing or two. It was a no-brainer for the club to bring it back this season.

They added another e-board member to oversee the league because of the overwhelming interest.

“We had decided that we weren’t going to do the league this year, but we had to have it because so many people wanted it,” said McMaster.

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