A new-looking Hope College men’s golf team carried on an old tradition on the links.
The Flying Dutch clinched their third consecutive Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship and 19th in team history on Tuesday with a second-place performance at the final league jamboree.
Hope finished five strokes ahead of runner-up Calvin with an eight-round, 144-hole total of 2,418 after shooting a 300 at Wuskowhan Players Club in West Olive.
Junior Winton Munch of Traverse City, Michigan (Traverse City Central HS), said he is proud of his teammates for how they responded after graduating a strong senior class.
“We were kind of the underdogs coming in,” said Munch, the lone regular to return from the 2014-15 season. “We had those four seniors last year, and when we lost them, everyone thought we were going to have just a young team that can’t produce anything. We really showed we could prove a lot of people wrong.”
Hope clinched a berth in next spring’s NCAA Division III Championships qualifier. The Flying Dutchmen will join Calvin, Trine and Kalamazoo for a 54-hole tournament to determine who advances to nationals. Hope will host the final two rounds as league champion.
On Tuesday, the Flying Dutchmen shot a team score of 300 to finish eight strokes behind jamboree winner Calvin.
Freshman Ben Kramer of Spring Lake, Michigan (Spring Lake HS), carded Hope’s top round with a 2-over-par 73. He tied for sixth place.
Freshman Josh Gibson of Grandville, Michigan (Grandville HS), chipped in a 75 and tied for 13th place.
Munch and sophomore Kade Hoeksema of Byron Center, Michigan (Grand Rapids South Christian HS), each recorded 76s. They tied for 18th place.
Freshman Andrew Goble of Brighton, Michigan (Brighton HS), added a 79.
Senior co-captains Kevin Cross of East Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Grand Rapids HS), and Paul Bardenhagen of Cedar, Michigan (Leland HS), played as individuals and shot rounds of 73 and 79, respectively.
The 13th MIAA title in 17 seasons means a lot to the Flying Dutchmen, Hoeksema said.
“We put in a lot of hard work throughout the summer and through the season,” Hoeksema said. “It gave us a platform to represent our school well.”
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS
The 2015 MIAA champion Hope College men's golf team, from left, head coach Bob Ebels, Ben Kramer, Josh Gibson, Winton Munch, Kade Hoeksema, Andrew Goble, assistant coach Scott Lokers. Photo by Alan Babbitt