Allegheny places second in Battle at Belterra Invitational

Carter Hassenplug, ’25, was among the six Allegheny golfers to compete in Florence, Indiana last Sunday, Sept. 12 and Monday, Sept. 13

Photo provided by Allegheny Athletics

Carter Hassenplug, ’25, was among the six Allegheny golfers to compete in Florence, Indiana last Sunday, Sept. 12 and Monday, Sept. 13

The Allegheny men’s golf team came in second place out of 14 teams in the Battle at Belterra Invitational in Florence, Indiana this past Sunday, Sept. 12, and Monday, Sept. 13. The two-day event featured one round each day consisting of a par-71 course. Allegheny was able to fend off their familiar foes in Centre College, Ohio Wesleyan University and Wabash College, but fell to Wittenberg, who won the competition.

Carter Hassenplug, ’25, Faaris Cheema, ’25, Zachary Melzar, ’25, Tanner Sliker, ’23, Shane Kelley, ’23, and Ryan Dayton, ’22, were the six Gators that competed in the Battle at Belterra. In round one, the Gators collectively carded a score of 307, which was tied for third with Centre. Cheema and Kelley led the way by turning in a 76.

However, in round two, the Gators finished with a combined score of 295, which was second only to Wittenberg. Hassenplug paced the Gators with a 70, which was the second best individual round total of the invitational. Overall, Hassenplug carded in a 148 over the two-day stretch, which tied him for seventh out of 76 golfers that competed at the Belterra Golf Club. Hassenplug credits his putting game as to why performed better on Monday than on Sunday.

“I hit the same amount of greens so my irons were consistent, but my putter, like I said, in the first round was a little bit cold,” Hassenplug said. “(On Monday) I got it going with about 31 or 32 putts, so five less putts (than Sunday) will do the trick.”

Hassenplug has found success early in his Allegheny career. Throughout the first three collegiate invites he has participated in, Hassenplug has averaged around a 72 in an 18-hole course, which is the best among all Allegheny golfers this season. The North East, Pennsylvania native grew up by his family-owned golf course. Hassenplug practiced frequently during the pandemic in the extended offseason.

Hassenplug’s father, Troy, traveled from North East to Florence to watch his son play. Carter attributes his success to his father’s advice on the golf course, whereas Troy’s coaching ability helped his son perform eight strokes better in round two.

“(My father) has been my coach my entire life, so he gave just me a couple of drills to do before the round,” Hassenplug said. “(My father) said focus on hitting the ball to the hole, get a feel for the speed and the break and that’s all you have to do.”

Many of the golfers earlier this week finished with a lower score on Monday. This includes Kelley who ended up with 76 in round one but ended up three strokes lower in round two. Kelley’s two-day allowed him to tie for ninth place in the competition. Kelley discussed why he is proud of his results at Belterra.

“I was pretty happy with my performance,” Kelley said. “I thought I left a couple out there in the last six holes or so. I really felt like I could have gotten myself in the mix coming down the stretch, but tied for ninth isn’t anything to complain about.”

Although Kelley was impressive during his time in Indiana, he understands what he wants to work on before the next invitational.

“(I) probably just want to clean everything up and make sure everything is like the second day,” Kelley said. “I’m not too worried about putting. In my personal opinion, it’s more of a confidence thing than anything. If you think it’s going to make it, it will go on. So, I think (the putts) will start falling for me.”

Meanwhile, Dayton, who carded 79 and 75 respectively, also has a good grasp of what he wants to continue to improve upon.

“I haven’t hit the ball straight as frequently as I want to,” Dayton said. “(The driver is) not in play as much. The first and second round at Belterra I hit the driver five to six times the entire tournament, and the driver is one of my strong suits. When you take it out of my hands, it makes it much more difficult to play to my potential.”

Dayton is one of three fourth-years on the team out of their 11-man roster. Dayton explained his leadership role with the team and how he can assist his teammates, especially the underclassmen if they need any help.

“If you are comfortable, you are able to play much better,” Dayton said. “If I can help ease people and guide them in the right direction and give them as much advice as possible, our team can succeed much easier.”

Above all, Head Coach Jeff Groff believed that his team handled the competition well in Indiana.

“I thought they played pretty well,” Groff said. “There were some ups and downs, which happens over the course of a round, but I just thought that their mindset was really strong.”

Allegheny’s mentally tough roster will tee off next time around at The Country Club of Meadville in the two-day Guy and Jeanne Kuhn Invitational from Sept. 25-26.

I thought they played pretty well. There were some ups and downs, which happens over the course of a round, but I just thought their mindset was really strong.

— Jeff Groff, Men's Golf Head Coach, Allegheny College