After a strong 2010-2011 year which saw the men’s golf team capture first place at 9 of 13 tournaments and fourth at Nationals, the Pioneers are anticipating a lot of success.
“My expectations for the fall are to win every tournament we are in, which includes two Division I tournaments,” men’s head coach Ken Hyland said.
Those expectations are substantial and competing against high-level Division I opponents such as Cleveland State, Dayton, Robert Morris (PA) and Appalachian State will not be easy.
Despite the tough schedule the Pioneers have this year because of the move to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II, Hyland’s level of expectation remains unflappable.
[pullquote]Anytime we tee it up we expect we are going to win,” Hyland said.[/pullquote]
While to some this may sound cliché, Hyland has plenty of reason to believe in his golfers because of their accomplishments and history with the program but also because of their unbelievable summers.
According to Hyland, all of his athletes golfed well in the time away from campus as many of them competed in high-level amateur tournaments.
The most notable accomplishments for Pioneer golfers over the summer came from the team’s two captains, senior Richie Schembechler and junior Tyler Light.
Schembechler’s notable tournament finishes over the summer months includes low amateur at the Ohio Open, low amateur at the Tigertown Open and second at the State Public Links.
Some of Light’s accomplishments included winning the Stark County Amateur tournament and finishing high in other prestigious tournaments such as Ohio PGA State Junior Tournament.
According to Hyland, you can “flip a coin” when it comes to the importance of fall season to spring season for golf. The biggest difference is the preparation they have going into each season.
With a full slate of summer play, Hyland fully expects there to be no rust for his players and that they should come out guns blazing as they try to win each tournament and win the National Christian College Athletic Association Nationals Tournament in October.
“We should be ready because we have come off of summer play,” Hyland said. “It is a little bit different in the spring because we have to hit golf balls inside in January and February, but coming off of summer play there are no excuses. We should be ready to go.”
The men are already off to a great start as the captured their own invitational over the weekend at Tannenhauf Golf Club, defeating seven other teams. The next time the Pioneers will tee it up will be when they hold the annual Alumni Golf Scramble on Oct. 1st at Tablerock Golf Club.
After a year of steady improvement, the Pioneer ladies’ golf team comes into this fall season with high hopes and a new but familiar face in the coaching ranks.
Over the summer the biggest news for the Pioneers was the addition of an assistant coach for the first time ever.
In fact, the new assistant coach is current head coach Heather Grovemiller’s father, Larry Grovemiller.
Larry, like his daughter, is an alumnus of Malone as he graduated in 1970. Larry has a heap of experience as well as he was the long time coach of Perry’s women’s golf team.
His efforts for the Perry program are not unrecognized either as he recently, over the summer, was inducted into the Ohio Coaches Hall of Fame.
In many ways having her father as her assistant coach is a reunion of sorts for Heather because in high school she played for her dad at Perry.
According to Heather, having her father as her assistant has not been much of an adjustment because of her experience with him as her coach.
[pullquote]Since I played for him I know how he runs practices and so we are pretty much on the same page, which is nice,” Heather said.[/pullquote]
One of the biggest contributions Larry has made for the team is just having a fresh perspective. Heather said it is nice to have another set of eyes that can help fix any swing faults the women may have or give them a tip that will get them out of a slump.
“It is good at practice too because, while we are a small group, sometimes we can split up and work on different skills,” Heather said. “It is great that way because I could be on the driving range and he could be helping with short game at the same time.”
Another change for the lady Pioneers coming into this year was the inability to be able to practice as much as a team during the summer months.
Due to the move to NCAA Division II, there are more practice restrictions than what was set upon them from the NAIA.
According to Heather, the women were unable to have official practices as a team until Sept. 7. The new practice restriction hinders the women more than the men because unlike the men there are many amateur tournaments out there for women.
“There are not quite as many opportunities for women as there are for men,” Heather said. “Most of the tournaments are for girls who just finished their senior year of high school. It is kind of funny but the freshman are usually the ones who play the most tournaments in the summer because of age restrictions.”
Overall the team is geared toward making it to the NCCAA National Tournament in October. According to Heather, this will be the first year the NCCAA holds a national tournament for the women.
The process for qualifying for the tournament is interesting as Heather said teams will submit scores to the NCCAA all year and at the end of the fall they will pick nine teams to compete in Panama City, FL.
Overall Heather does not know what to expect from her golfers but she said she is excited for the opportunity.
“Honestly, it is kind of hard to gauge my expectations because we are going in against different fields than we have played in the past,” Heather said. “I will say I am excited for the year and the potential for the class is really good. We’ve got at least four girls who are shooting consistently well and we look good at the driving range too.”
Unfortunately the lady Pioneers had a rough start to their season as they finished fifth in a five-team field at the Wooster Invitational this past weekend. The next tournament for the team will come Thursday Sept. 23 at the Northwestern Ohio Invitational in Lima, OH.