Next year, EMU will offer not one but two new varsity sports: men’s and women’s golf.
This spring, the Athletic Department began the process of transferring golf from a club sport into a varsity sport.
EMU’s Athletic Department has been looking to add a new varsity program to help meet the university’s enrollment goals for 2014.
Golf was chosen because of student interest and what Athletic Director Dave King calls “the sustainability” of the sport.
A club golf team was created a few years back, initiated by the interest of a few students. Three of these students will be seniors next year and are planning to play in the fall, giving the team an initial core group.
Part of the club’s purpose was to help demonstrate its “sustainability,” or the ability of the program to support itself and retain members. With an informal team this proved somewhat difficult because students were not committed.
King is hopeful the level of commitment will increase by making it a varsity sport.
“What I felt needed to happen,” King commented, “is for the university to say ‘here is the team.’”
Contrary to what many may think, golf is fairly low maintenance and low cost. Not much travel is involved, many team members have their own equipment, and deals can be made with golf courses to lower membership costs.
EMU has arranged membership through Heritage Oaks Golf Course, located not far from campus near Harrisonburg High School.
Another advantage to golf is that coaches do not have to travel to recruit because they do not need to scout matches. They can simply look at a player’s scores to judge his or her skill level.
Unfortunately, EMU has yet to hire a coach but is hoping to do so within the next few weeks so he or she can take on the recruitment process.
“We would have liked to have had the coach hired in January,” said King. “We hope that the coach can get started as soon as he or she is hired.”
King and the athletic department hope to see the golf team carrying approximately 10-12 men and 8-10 women.
Logistically, the golf season stretches into both semesters. To qualify for the ODAC tournament the team must participate in at least three ODAC approved invitationals. EMU hopes to schedule three in the fall and three in the spring, as well as participate in the ODAC conference tournament.
The ODAC is offering women’s golf for the first time next year. Its addition has caused other schools to begin looking into adding teams as well. There are currently five schools planning to participate in the 2012-2013 season.
The program next year is an excellent way for current students to become involved in a team sport, and hopefully it will attract a few more prospective students as well.
If you are interested in playing, keep an eye out for upcoming meetings and chances to meet with the new coach.