Short game can lead golf team deep into postseason

by Matt Bower

Returning from Orlando, Fla., Simpson’s golf teams are ready to start the spring season.

“I expect us to finish no worse than third in the conference,” men’s coach Larry Shoop said. “If things materialize as I hope they will, we could finish second or first.”

Shoop said having four of five starters coming back from last year’s third-place team gives the team a good nucleus to build on.

“We have Mike Martin coming back as a senior to lead the way,” Shoop said. “Also freshman Cody Scharf, who played well for us in the fall, is returning and junior Austin Jennings, who came to us from Marshalltown, has been playing well in the starting five.”

Shoop says camaraderie is one of the team’s strengths.

“Both Cody and Austin have played a lot on the junior tour,” Shoop said. “It provides us with pretty good team unity.”

According to junior Rob Kahn, the team looks to Martin for leadership, but he says there are a lot of players who are capable of scoring well.

“If someone is struggling, another guy can step in,” Kahn said. “It gives us a nice balance.”

Kahn said competition within the team is a positive thing – it helps them out, especially by improving consistency.

“Consistency is an issue right now,” Kahn said. “If we can become more consistent, it will help us to become the top team in the conference.”

One way to lower scores is to work on the short game.

“We work on it a lot,” Shoop said. “It can always get better though.”

Shoop said he’s looking for Scharf, Jennings, Kahn and freshman David Combs to figure in prominently to the Storm’s success this season.

“At this point, we look for them to carry the banner for Simpson men’s golf this year,” Shoop said.

Shoop said the conference continues to get deeper every year with teams like Central, Wartburg, Luther, Loras and Coe.

“We look for those teams to provide the most competition,” Shoop said.

The women’s team is also looking to make a strong finish, but it’s largely concerned with Wartburg.

“We’re in situation where Wartburg has one leg up on us,” women’s coach Bob Darrah said. “Last fall we went 3-3 and they beat us in the conference. We need to beat them at least two out of the three matches we have against them this season.”

Darrah is confident the Storm can get the job done because he said the pressure is on Wartburg to hold Simpson off.

“We’re fairly equal skill-wise,” Darrah said. “It’s more of mind game now. We play Wartburg at their home course and if we could beat them there, it’d be a real shot in the arm.”

Sophomore Jenny Goodall said the team needs to beat Wartburg each time it faces them if it wants to make it to Nationals.

“Our goal is to play every meet with intensity so we can focus on Nationals,” Goodall said. “We have good leadership and camaraderie, plus a great drive for success.”

Goodall said the team can save a lot of strokes on the green by working on its short game.

“Chipping and putting is where you cut your strokes,” Darrah said. “It takes a lot of focus and concentration but we know what we need to do and that helps.”

According to Darrah, this year’s national tournament will be held in Pinehurst, NC and he said the location will provide good incentive for the team.

“It’s a really nice place to play,” Darrah said. “It’s the Mecca of golf down there.”