The Elizabethtown College men’s golf team had a busy four day stretch last week, competing in tournaments in Lebanon and Hershey, Pa. On April 6, the Blue Jays competed in the LVC Dutchmen Spring Invitational hosted by Lebanon Valley College. Led by two top ten finishes by sophomore Kyle Hakun and senior Ryan Laudeman, the Blue Jays took fourth in the field of 14 teams.
Both Hakun and Laudeman finished six over par, shooting a 78 on the day, good for a ninth place tie in the player standings. For Laudeman, it was his fourth top 10 finish of the year, which leads the team. Hakun finished in the top 10 for the second time this year.
Fellow sophomore Chuck Johnston shot seven over par for a 79 and a 16th place tie. Johnston nailed three birdies and finished just one stroke back of Hakun and Laudeman for ninth place. Senior Ryan Forbes recorded an 81, shooting nine over par, and junior Adam Amspacher shot an 86 to round out the Blue Jays competitors.
Etown’s fourth place finish was the team’s sixth top five finish of the year. Messiah College won the tournament with a team score of 298, 10 shots over par. Penn State Harrisburg finished second, 14 strokes back of the Falcons.
The Blue Jays returned to the course on April 9 to compete in their own tournament, the Elizabethtown Invitational at the Hershey Country Club East Course. Etown struggled to match their success from earlier in the week thanks in large part to unfavorable weather conditions. Temperatures in the low 40s and an off-and-on mist took a toll on many of the participating golfers.
“For me, playing in the wind is a lot harder than playing in the rain, but both are tough,” Laudeman said. “Everyone has to play in the same conditions though, so just being prepared and staying focused is the best way to play in any inclement weather.”
Staying focused was a daunting task for many golfers.
“When it’s windy, you need to learn how to flight the ball low, and also need to be aware of how much the wind will affect the yardage to play,” Laudeman said. “When it’s rainy, staying dry and having plenty of towels is the best way to beat the conditions. You need to keep your grips dry so the club doesn’t slip out of your hands. You also need to learn how to strike the ball first because if you hit just a little behind it the wet grass will cause you to chunk it.”
Laudeman fought the elements and earned the Blue Jays highest finish in the player standings, coming in at 30th after shooting 14 over par for an 85. Laudeman and his teammates were unable to convert a birdie all afternoon. Laudeman played his best round of the spring on Monday, but overall feels as if he can preform better.
“I’ve actually played extremely poor this spring season. I feel really rusty and just can’t seem to get anything going the way I want it too, but hopefully can finish strong over our last two tournaments,” Laudeman said.
Johnston fell two shots back of Laudeman, finishing with a round of 87, and Forbes finished the day with a round of 90.
Senior Isaac Bingaman made his season debut at the Etown Invitational, recording a 93 with three pars on the front nine. First-year Craig Eidle played a strong front nine, totaling four pars, but fell on hard times on the back nine to finish with a 99. Fellow first-years Brian Priebe and Adam Strayton competed as individuals for the Blue Jays, compiling scores of 99 and 100, respectively.
Once again, Messiah took home the team title, shooting 24 shots over par for a total of 308; 12 shots better than second place Penn State Harrisburg. The Blue Jays finished 8th in the team standings, recording a score of 355 for the tournament.
With the tough weather conditions and the long winter, the Blue Jays struggled to find a clear day to get onto the course in the early spring. “The winter was extremely long and cold with a lot of snow,” Laudeman said. “It was hard to get any practice time in to be able to compete at a high level. I would say it affected all of us very significantly.”
It seems like the Blue Jays have shaken some of the rust off as they head into their final tournaments. Etown will be back in action this afternoon at the Messiah Falcon Spring Classic at the Blue Ridge Country Club in Harrisburg, Pa. The Blue Jays will conclude their season on Monday, April 20 at the Franklin and Marshall Spring Invitational.