The Elizabethtown College men’s golf team has not been a part of a conference championship tournament since the 2013-14 season. That year’s Commonwealth Conference Championships was the last tournament the Blue Jays participated in as members of the Middle Atlantic Conference, or any conference for that matter. However, starting in 2017-18, that will all change.
This past summer, the Landmark Conference announced it will increase its roster of conference sports by adding varsity men’s and women’s golf beginning in the fall of 2017. The addition of both men’s and women’s golf will increase the number of sports sponsored for the first time since the conference was organized in 2006. There will be 22 total championship offerings, 12 for women and 10 for men.
“It is very important to know that the Landmark is adding a conference championship in two years,” junior golfer Chuck Johnston said. “It gives us something to play for at the end of our year. Schools who currently have golf teams in the Landmark are very competitive and bringing them together for a conference championship should be very fun.”
With Etown’s arrival into the Landmark Conference last year, the number of institutions sponsoring men’s golf was brought to four. Currently, Moravian, Scranton and Susquehanna participate as members of the Empire 8 Conference for men’s golf. Susquehanna is the only Landmark Conference school that currently sponsors women’s golf. Susquehanna’s women’s team participates in the Centennial Conference. Other Landmark Conference members Drew, Goucher and Juniata have expressed interest in adding varsity men’s and women’s golf in the near future.
Without a conference tournament and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championships, postseason play is hard to come by for Etown’s golf program. July’s announcement will give the Landmark Conference an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship starting in 2017-18.
“It bothers me a lot that we do not play in a conference championship at the end of the year because of the fact that we cannot qualify for nationals,” Johnston said. “Playing in the national championship is the goal of every collegiate team no matter what sport they’re playing.”
Etown is looking into the possibility of adding women’s golf to their sponsored sports, joining Drew, Goucher, Juniata and Susquehanna which already have a team in place.
“The emergence of women’s golf across Division III has a great impact on the sport of golf,” Johnston said. “Seeing teams form not only at Etown, but across the conference is great for the growth of this great game.”
The men’s golf team will begin their spring season on March 28 when they compete at the Dutchmen Invitational hosted by Lebanon Valley College.