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Golf teams focus on academics, team building as season ends

On April 14, 2010

Golf head coach Wendell Smith felt it was necessary for the golf team to put academics first.

Smith said it was not widely known that he kept the women's golf team home from one tournament last spring due to academic concerns.

He explained that they missed a lot of class in the spring season last year, and he chose to keep the women's team home from a tournament to focus on academics before final exams.

It was a regional tournament, which did not guarantee participation in the NAIA National tournament if they won. The women's team has to miss tournaments this year, because
of other reasons.

"This year we are not going to as many tournaments, primarily because of conflicting dates, and we are trying to squeeze our season into a shorter school year," Smith said. "Our students are working hard to keep up with coursework and are expected
to be proactive in communicating their schedules with professors."

Smith said the women's team is gradually improving this season. They have only had two tournaments so far this spring, and each of the golfers has improved from round to
round.

Because they are down to four women, each golfer knows their score will count. In college golf, a team consists of five players and the best four scores on the team are counted. The women have three tournaments left this spring to continue to excel.

"I think we're doing well; we are getting our feet wet," junior Lindsey Lightner said. "I just got back in the country. I was gone for six months, and overall I think we had a good season so far especially since we got our girls back."

The men's golf team academic activities are a little different. Smith said that in the 2008-2009 school year, the men's team was an NAIA Scholar Team with a team grade point average of 3.08.

Two men golfers have over a 3.6 cumulative GPA, and several members of both teams have a 3.0. It's something that the team is noticing, too.

"The season is going good. We really haven't played quite to our potential, but we did manage to win our home tournament this spring," sophomore Cody Rhyne said.

Smith continues to remain optimistic as well.

"We have two tournaments left to see what we are made of. Our first priority as a program will always be focused on becoming the best student we can be."

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