SEASON PREVIEW: Tee Time Is Now

EMU's men need to replace No. 1 golfer Andrew Alderfer (second from left). (photo by Scott Eyre)
EMU's men need to replace No. 1 golfer Andrew Alderfer (second from left). (photo by Scott Eyre)

While their championship isn't until the spring, EMU's golf teams are all business this fall as they get ready to start a new season.

Bringing back nearly everybody from 2017-18, the Royals are looking for stability in their approach and are ready to slice off strokes from their scoring averages.

ODAC Finish in 2017: Men: 11th of 11; Women: no team score
Coach: Mike Yoder – Yoder is entering his third season at EMU.

Men's season opener in 2018:
- at Shenandoah Invitational at Winchester Country Club in Winchester, Va., this Sunday and Monday
Women's season opener in 2018:
- at Knights Invitational at Vista Links Golf Course in Buena Vista, Va., on Saturday, Sept. 15
ODAC Championship:
- April 28-30 at Bryan Park Golf & Conference Center in Greensboro, N.C.

Interview

SID: How would you recap 2017-18 in a sentence or two, and how is that playing into this year?

MY: We're beginning to see progress with our work ethic and expectations.  It's not difficult to convince this year's group to work on their weaknesses.  This mentality has been a few years in the making. 

SID: Tell me about your men's golfers, both returners and newcomers.

MY: We have three seniors who will provide leadership, while Benjamin Shenk (Elkton, Va./Page County), Chris Fenn (Glen Allen, Va./Glen Allen) and newcomer Christopher Elliott Beaver Springs, Pa./Midd-West) will give new energy for the future.

SID: Tell me about your women's golfers, both returners and newcomers.

MY: Olyvia Longacre (Telford, Pa./Dock Mennonite Academy) is our lone returner on the women's team.  We'll look for continued improvement from last year when she finished 10th at the season end ODAC Championship. For first year Kierra Zuercher (Canton, Ohio/Lake Center Christian), look to take this fall to get acclimated to collegiate golf and improve in the spring. 

SID: You graduated only one senior on the men's side, but Andrew Alderfer was your clear No. 1 golfer. What does it mean to lose him?

MY: It's tough to lose a player like Andrew when you know he will put up a low number each round.  He was a true grinder on the course.  

SID: You do bring back a sizeable core, and Lucas Miller (San Antonio, Texas/Brandeis), Austin Sachs (Dillsburg, Pa./Northern York) and Riley Kingsley (North Newton, Kan./Newton) are each entering their season year.  What does it mean to have that core back?

MY: With this group, I know they are capable of going about their business and I don't need to be concerned with needing to push them.  They are competitive by nature and have solid demeanors about them.  

SID: What goals or expectations do you have team-wise and individual-wise for the men?

MY: I just want to see individual improvement from week to week.  Not just with scores but also with how they manage the course and their emotions.

SID: Olyvia Longacre seemed to be finding her groove last year, including rounds of 83 and 81 to close up at ODACs.  What does that finish do for her entering her junior season?

MY: It gives her the confidence to compete with the best the ODAC has to offer.  She now knows she belongs there. 

SID: What goals or expectations do you have for the women?

MY: Similar to the men, improve from week to week and gain confidence through the fall schedule. 

SID: As you have prepared for this year, what are one or two things you have focused on?

MY: We looked at our results from ODACs and it was easy to see that minimizing mistakes will be a key to improvement.  Golf is not a perfect game; everyone will make bogies and need to learn how to move on focusing on the next hole.  When we get into trouble, we need to focus on not letting that extra stroke turn into two or three extra strokes by trying to do too much. 

SID: Overall feeling for what 2018-19 will be for your teams?

MY: I'm expecting this group to be more consistent and play in the moment.  I also expect our mental outlook to be stronger.