Golf looking to build off 2008 season

Justin Wulf

Justin Wulf

After losing strong senior play from both the men’s and women’s golf teams, head coach Jared Baszler expects both Jackrabbit squads to contend, despite the youth and lack of experience.

“I don’t think we’re going to fall off the face of the earth by any means,” Baszler said of his men’s team. “Obviously we’ve got some huge shoes to fill, but we’ve got four good freshmen coming in. I’d really like to see us contend in at least one tournament this year just to give us a feel of what it’s like.”

Returning from the 2008-09 Jacks – a team that notched the first four Division-I wins in school history – are seniors Justin Jenkins and Kyle Vandevoort. The pair of perennial top-five players will be looked to in order to provide leadership and guidance for the younger men’s team.

Baszler says he intends to take more than five guys to most of the tournaments this fall in hopes of his team getting more experience before the conference tournament in the spring.

“We’re gearing up to get some kids some experience,” Baszler said. “Anything can happen at the conference tournament. I’m really interested to see how the season plays out.”

Piquing the interest of most SDSU golf enthusiasts is freshman David Smith. The Tucson, Ariz. qualified for a pair of USGA Amateur events over the summer – including the U.S. Amateur Public Links and missing the cuts by six strokes at the U.S. Amateur.

“He’s definitely the freshman that everyone’s excited about, considering what he did this summer. I hope he can keep it rolling,” Baszler said. “Every freshman responds to college a little bit differently, especially the way golf goes. I’m guessing he’ll be just fine.”

On the women’s side, the Jacks are hoping to nix the problems they had with inconsistency last season.

“All the girls that are playing this year also played last year, so they’re going to have a year under their belt,” Baszler said. “I’m hoping that they’re going to be a little more acclimated to the college golf scene.”

While Baszler knows he can’t replace the leadership he lost in Amanda Rosol and Holly Opatz, the seventh-year coach thinks that incoming freshman Morgan Fitts should provide some stability for a women’s team that doesn’t have a senior on its roster.

“I’m willing to bet that Morgan is going to be able to make the top five pretty easily,” Baszler said.

Following their fall schedule, the SDSU will be hosting its own event in the spring – the Jackrabbit Invitational in Primm, Nev.

“We’re really excited about it. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for quite some time,” Baszler said. “The nice thing is that we’re going to be able to take every player on our roster, not just the top five or six. I’m guessing it’s going to be a little Brookings away from Brookings.”

Both teams will tee off their season with events hosted by Nebraska on Sept. 14 to 15 – the men’s team at Fairway Club Invitational and the women’s at the Chip-n-Club Invitational.