Coming off their most successful season in more than a decade, the Flying Dutchmen have every reason to feel optimistic about the prospects for 2000.

Last fall coach Bob Ebels' Dutchmen captured the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship for the first time since 1989 and then in the spring earned a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament where they finished 17th.

The Flying Dutchmen launch their season Friday and Saturday (Sept. 8-9) with a 36-hole tournament hosted by Olivet College at the Bedford Valley Country Club. It's the same course where the Dutchmen competed in nationals last spring. It will be the only tuenup before league play begins at Albion on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Four of the five players who competed in the NCAA tournament return for the 2000 season. They are senior captain Mike Feyen of East Grand Rapids, Mich., sophomore Everett Leonard of Kalamazoo, Mich., junior Aaron Vandenberg of Holland, Mich., and junior Eric Wohlfield of Brighton, Mich. The fifth player, senior Chris Rutan of Ann Arbor, is studying in an off-campus program this semester. The other returning letterwinner is senior Mike Evans of Rochester, Mich.

Wohlfield has been MIAA medalist the past two seasons. His league average as both a freshman (72.4) and a sophomore (74.0) rank one-two on the list of all-time leading Hope golfers. The Flying Dutchmen were ranked 10th in the nation among NCAA Division III teams at the end of the fall portion of their season. Six Hope golfers achieved All-MIAA honors with tournament averages below 80 strokes per round. Joining Wohlfield (74.0) on the first team was Vandenberg (77.5) while second team honorees were Leonard (78.6), Feyen (79.1), Rutan (79.1) and senior Ben Fellows (79.6).

The home course of the Flying Dutchmen will again be the Clearbrook Golf Club in Saugatuck, Mich. Hope will host the conference tournament on Tuesday, Sept. 26.