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EMU to Add Golf for 2012-13

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Eastern Mennonite University has announced that it will be adding men’s and women’s golf programs, starting with the 2012-13 season.

Both men and women will compete as sponsored Old Dominion Athletic Conference sports, with the conference also adding the women’s sport next fall.  The new programs bring the number of athletic offerings at EMU to 17.  The school also offers baseball, field hockey and softball as well as men’s and women’s basketball, cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field, soccer and volleyball.

Director of Athletics Dave King is excited about adding the two programs.

“It is very exciting to be able to provide additional opportunities for students to participate in intercollegiate sports,” said King.  “When you recognize the added value of playing collegiate sports to the educational experience, it is gratifying to know that up to 20 more students will have the opportunity to be impacted through being a member of the golf teams.   I believe the nature of practices and competitions in golf will allow us to attain and then retain full rosters.”

King said he hopes to have a head coach hired as soon as possible to start the recruiting process.  He feels golf is a good fit for the institution.

“The interest and participation in high school golf is strong in some of the university’s key recruitment areas and we have had an increasing number of prospective students inquire about a golf team.  The proximity of a city owned golf course, the growth of women’s golf in the ODAC and our interest in expanding the athletic program to assist in reaching the enrollment goals of the university, were all factors in our decision to add the golf programs for next year.”

Dr. Ken L. Nafziger, EMU’s Vice President for Student Life who oversees the Athletic Department, thought golf supported the mission of preparing students for the rest of their lives through an avenue the students were already utilizing.

“Several years ago students who had played competitively in high school initiated golf as a club team sport,” said Nafziger.  “Once we saw sustained student interest and the opportunity to attract academically-oriented students, both men and women, to a sport offered by the ODAC and many of our feeder schools, we decided to implement it.  With good coaching and recruitment, we believe golf team members can achieve both academic and athletic success in a sport that they can play for a lifetime with friends and business colleagues.”

The Royals will use Heritage Oaks Golf Course in Harrisonburg as their home course.

“I am very grateful to Heritage Oaks Golf Course and their head professional, David Johns, for their encouragement, support and cooperation,” King said.  “The course is kept in great condition, it is conveniently located and the staff is very good to work with.  The Loyal Royals have also been a big help as they are providing funding that allows us to hire the coach this semester and support the golf club program this spring.”

Brad Bankston, Commissioner of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, said EMU’s decision comes at an interesting crossroads in the ODAC’s history.

“It’s always great to see member institutions working to improve their offerings,” he said.  “The addition of golf at EMU is a testament to the school’s focus on broadening its offerings to student-athletes in an effort to accommodate a need on campus.  Recent membership discussions led to inviting Shenandoah University to the conference, and internal championships and scheduling conversations have provided schools the opportunity to evaluate their own offerings.  EMU will bring our number to 11 teams in the men’s golf championship in 2012-13.”

Besides the talented depth of the men’s field, Bankston explained that women’s golf is a growing area in the ODAC and will become its 23rd sponsored sport.

“Its addition was not anticipated but happened at a time when EMU was exploring adding golf,” said Bankston.  “We will start the sport with five schools participating.  Seven sponsoring members are needed to secure an NCAA automatic qualifier in women’s golf.  The talk of adding the sport has other schools thinking about women’s golf which could help provide the NCAA automatic in a few short years.”

While the ODAC Tournament and National Championships are in the spring, the golf season actually starts in the fall and takes a break during the winter months.  ODAC teams must compete in at least three ODAC-endorsed events, some of which are in the fall and some in the spring.  Although there are no specific criteria concerning length, most events are two days long.

Participating schools name a five-person team for each event, with the official team combined score being the four best scores of each round.  More than five golfers may participate in an event, although the extra athletes would play as individuals and not have a chance to affect the team score.

The ODAC Tournament, generally held in mid-April, is a three-round event which recently has been held at Bay Creek Resort in Cape Charles, VA.  The National Championships are held in mid-May.

King said that the EMU golf teams will likely participate in three events in the fall of 2012 and three more in the spring of 2013 before the ODAC Tournament.

Information on the coaching position can be found at emu.edu/humanresources/vacancy/head_golf_coach.htm

4 Responses to "EMU to Add Golf for 2012-13"

  1. TennisStar says:

    But we still can’t get tennis back?

  2. TennisAlum says:

    Great question, TennisStar. Where is tennis? We’re still waiting for a legitimate answer many years later.

    • Mike Zucconi says:

      A response from Dave King, athletic director at EMU.

      “The women’s team was dropped because there were not enough players to field a team and efforts to revive it since that time have failed due to a lack of interest.

      The men’s program was cut for budgetary reasons. However, for several years leading up to that decision, the team struggled to have enough players. Tennis players have been good students academically, often very involved in campus activities and a good “fit” for the university. And for the above reasons, many quit playing during their four years at EMU, making it difficult to field teams. With minimum sized rosters, the lower ranked players rarely beat the players above them thereby not getting to compete for the university. There is often more fluidity in golf when determining who will compete on the weekend for the university, which should keep the interest level high for golf.

      According to some local tennis players, interest in tennis in the valley is decreasing and even our efforts to create a community based tennis program (similar to the SVASL) have not been supported locally.

      The golf programs in our “feeder” schools have been stronger than the tennis programs in those same schools.

      Hope this helps. I still long for someone to put energy into a community based tennis program with a variety of formats, ages etc. Dave”

  3. Golfer says:

    My brother came to emu 11 years ago and he was promised this would happen before he would leave, i came four years ago and the same promise was made. Looks like i missed it by a semester thanks Dave!