The Webster University golf team had a great season last year, winning the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and advancing to the NCAA Division III tournament for the second time in program history.
Even though the Gorloks no longer have Robby Meeh, the team’s captain for the last two years, the 2011-12 team has a chance to be elite.
For the last few seasons, one of the hot topics with the golf team was the squad’s inexperience. Meeh had been around for a few years, but the rest of the players didn’t have much experience.
Last spring, things finally started to click. The Gorloks caught fire and it was often the younger players who carried the load.
Heading into this season, only one golfer doesn’t have at least one season under his belt. Four of the five men to play in the NCAA tournament are returning this season. This means the Gorloks have gone from being very inexperienced a few years ago, to a veteran-laden team looking for its second straight SLIAC title.
Here are some key reasons why the golf team should expect to have a very successful season:
— Sophomore Kaleb Kessler had an outstanding first collegiate season last year. Kessler was selected to the SLIAC’s All-Conference first team and was also selected as the SLIAC Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year. Kessler will be looking to build off his fast start in season No. 2.
— Junior Steven Kinsman was also selected to the SLIAC’s All-Conference first team. He had some very good rounds at important times for the team. The Gorloks will look for him to continue to be a consistent contributor to the team.
— Over the summer, junior Kyler Scott played in the inaugural Accelerated Golf Tour. Scott won two tournaments and took second in another event on his way to earning the honor of Co-Player of the Year in the collegiate men’s division. Scott has been one of the most consistent Gorlok golfers for the last two years, and looks to continue improving on a golf game that is already one of the best in the SLIAC.
— Junior Dan Klipsch really stepped his game up at the end of last season. He came in first in the John McNaughton Memorial Classic, beating out Scott. Then he had his best showing of the season at the NCAA tournament, including a 75 in the first round. Klipsch seems to get better each season and looks to build off a good finish to last year.
— Sophomores J.T. Beckmann and Andrew Noble both return after their first collegiate seasons. They will both add depth to the team as well as experience. They will be looking to continue making the most of every chance they get.
— Freshman Matt Vanderbeek is the wild card of this group. While he is only a freshman, Vanderbeek has the potential to be an integral part of the Gorloks’ success this season. Last year, Vanderbeek won the Nevada 3A state title by 10 strokes. The Gorloks hope he can carry his strong play over to college without missing a step.
The golf team has the ability to be very good for not only this year but next year as well, since no one on the roster is a senior. But that by no means makes anything certain. The season is long and injuries are impossible to predict. But if the golfers can play up to their potential, they have the chance to do some impressive things.