Poor putting haunts Busters at NJCAA championships
By ADAM HOLT
Conditions were perfect over the final three days of the NJCAA Championship. The Broncbusters' putting was far from it.
The Garden City Community College men's golf team finished 23rd out of 24 teams at the national tournament at The Rawls Course in Lubbock, Texas, a one-spot improvement from last year's finish. But disastrous putting cost Garden City a chance to finish much higher.
"We were brutal on the greens," GCCC head coach Phil Terpstra said in a phone interview. "And usually it doesn't last four days, but it did for us. If we putt just halfway decent, we should have a really good showing, because we hit the ball pretty good, hit a lot of greens, recovered on some stuff. As a team, we were terrible on the greens — just terrible."
The Busters were within six shots of eighth place after two rounds, but the last two rounds of the tournament were their worst. Garden City went 302-299-303-307--1,211, nine shots ahead of last-place Trinidad State (Colo.) and seven back of North Idaho College for 22nd.
"We were in pretty good shape after two rounds," Terpstra said. "First round we're tied for 12th, after the second round, we're 18th, but we're only six shots out of eighth. So we're sitting really good. What we thought was pretty good, we hadn't putted very well. The problem was, on Thursday and Friday, rounds 3 and 4, there was like no wind. So it was perfect scoring conditions, which really favors those teams down south and from the east, because they're not used to playing in the wind. We just continued to putt terrible."
Terpstra said he hoped for each Buster to have between 28 and 32 putts per round. But of the 20 combined rounds, only Camrin Nissen was able to manage a 31-putt round, with no one else doing any better than 34.
Garden City got two practice rounds in, and Terpstra said that should have been enough to adjust. But the undulating greens just proved tricky for the Busters.
"The big thing is, those greens are very undulated," he said. "If you're in the wrong position, you're gonna have three putts. The problem was, we had too many three-putts, and too many two-putts from birdie range."
Will Paulsell, who was an All-American last year, finished tied for 59th with a 299, the best individual finish among the Busters. He shot a 1-under 71 in the first round, and an even 72 in the final round, but struggled with middle rounds of 80 and 76. And even that 72 to finish the tournament was disappointing due to putting.
"Will hit 16 greens out of 18, and had 35 putts, that's terrible," Terpstra said. "He shoots even par, but it's not a very good even par."
Trey Fankhauser and Matthew LeGrange tied for 86 with 303s, Zach Dunlap tied for 112th with a 312 and Camrin Nissen finished 121st at 319.
The other problem was Garden City couldn't get enough people going in the same round. Paulsell (71) and Fankhauser (73) had good first rounds, but no one else shot under 79; Fankhauser and LeGrange shot 72s and Dunlap shot 75 in the second round, but Paulsell (80) and Nissen (84) struggled.
"That was the other thing. Day 1, we had two; that's exactly right," Terpstra said. "We never had three. Let alone four. If you really want to play in a tournament, you've gotta have five. And we couldn't even get three. Well, we had three on Day 2. But pretty much after that, it was a two-man show. And you're just not going to do well with that."
Central Alabama took the team title by one shot with an 1,150, ahead of Odessa (Texas) College. Other Jayhawk Conference team finishes included Johnson County, which was fourth at 1,157, Hutchinson (tied for 14th at 1,188) and Dodge City (tied for 16th at 1,191).
Aksel Olsen of Wallace State (Ala.) and T.J. Morgan of Meridian (Miss.) Community College tied for first individually at 281. Three players tied for third with 282s. Alex Forristal of Johnson County was the top Jayhawk Conference finisher, tying for sixth at 283.
Despite the disappointing finish, Garden City played in its second straight national tournament since being reinstated as a program in the fall of 2011. And that's not a bad thing for Terpstra, who finished his first year as golf coach, to go off of.
"We played better in the spring, and that was nice," he said. "We were getting better as we go."
To finish how we did, the place is definitely disappointing, but the kids, they did their best. That's all you can ask. We got them back to the national tournament, so that was good. We've just got to try and build on it."