Golf swinging for gold with PAC champs in sight

The Allegheny men’s and women’s golf teams have a big week ahead of them. After a consistent spring season with both rosters competing in three events throughout the semester, all eyes are now set on the Presidents’ Athletic Conference championships, taking place from April 21 to 22.

With both teams placing well in the fall, hopes are high to put another good number out there. The men finished second in the championship last semester, and the most notable performance came from Carter Hassenplug, ’25, who finished in a tie for first. The women placed third and are hungry for more, having good shooters in Elisa Gomez, ’25, Jenny Beth Brundige, ’24, and Kelsi Zik, ’23.

“I feel like the team’s mindset, along with my own individual mindset, is to go out and win,” Hassenplug said. “We all recognize that bad shots are going to happen. That’s inevitable. However, it’s going to be about how we recover and bounce back. If we do that well, there’s no doubt in any of our minds that we will come out victorious.”

The competition will take place at the Mill Creek Golf Course in Boardman, Ohio, in a 36-hole roundup of the PAC’s best. There are two fields of play that feature a championship-style design. The women will be playing on the north end with the men to the south. Both courses are par 70 and total 6,511 yards, with four sets of tees — the women will tee off from the gold boxes and the men off of the blue.

The Gators are in familiar territory this weekend. The men have gotten reps on the playing surface several times over the past couple of seasons, and Hassenplug believes this will set the team up well. The women have also been scouting the course, examinnig the tees and yardage. Both rosters will get to play in a practice round on the course before the event begins.

“It’s a course that suits all of our games well,” Hassenplug said. “Getting that much practice on a course is definitely advantageous.”

Mill Creek is a relatively flat course, according to the course website. The fairways are tight with trees surrounding them, and there are over 100 bunkers to avoid with other natural hazards that will make it tough on the players. They must be accurate off the tee and with their approach shots to have a chance of putting themselves in a position for success.

The Gators have had a rigorous spring so far. In the northeast, it is difficult to get outside and have quality reps to improve players’ games. That being said, both rosters have buckled down and have missed only a few practice sessions of daylight since spring break. The training regimen implemented by Head Coach Jeff Groff is expected to pay off this weekend, in order to make the jump from the podium to the gold.

“The next step actually began right after the fall season with work in the weight room, golf room and leading right into our spring trip and season, up to this point,” Groff said. “If we can get four solid scores from each team this weekend, I like our chances to move up in the standings.”

The women have been working hard to put up good scores with the help of Groff. Zik has been on top of the Gators leaderboard all spring, most recently placing seventh in the John Carroll Invitational. Gomez has also swung the club well, as she placed second back in the Mount Union Spring Invitational.

Depending on the result, this could be Zik’s final rodeo; her senior season would end with anything short of first place for the Gators at Mill Creek. Although it is a huge hole that will have to be filled for next year, for the time she still has, Zik wants to leave it all on the course this weekend.

“It’s a bittersweet moment,” Zik said. “I have always gone by the saying that time flies when you’re having fun, and I would say that sums up my collegiate golf career as a Gator. I’ve been able to compete ever since I was a freshman here at Allegheny and to know it is my last tournament is sad, yet it fills me with all emotions knowing all of the accomplishments that I have made over the years. I am proud to have represented Allegheny these past four years and I feel ecstatic to compete in my last championship as a Gator.”

If either team wins the conference they will grab a bid for the NCAA tournament in May for first time since 2011 when the women’s team won the North Coast Athletic Confrence. The players are amped up, and will be coming out with something to prove.

The golf program has made tremendous strides in recent years. With the addition of some great golfers over the last couple of classes, things are looking up for the future of Allegheny.

“There’s a lot to be excited for in the near future,” Hassenplug said. “Obviously I’m excited and ready to compete at PAC, but looking past that, a lot of opportunities await the Allegheny golf teams. If we are fortunate to win PAC, we will have the opportunity to compete in the National Championship. How can’t that be exciting?”