Published: April 27, 2023
Club Golf Wins National Championship in Indiana
Winning the National Collegiate Club Golf Association (NCCGA) tournament didn’t come without challenges for the University of Tampa team.
Qualifying requirements were stricter than they’d been in the past, thanks to a new involvement with the PGA. Then, the invite to compete didn’t come until 12 days before the event.
The field for the event, which hosted 25 teams, was cut by 75% since the last championship, said Carson Yonker ’24, “so making it was much tougher.”
“We played great this semester, so I knew the invite was coming, (I) just had to be patient,” he said.
The club golf national championship is held twice per year since there are two seasons: fall and spring. UT’s eight players were happy to compete again after placing ninth in the fall.
The tournament took place at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex in West Lafayette, IN, home to Purdue University.
None of the men were used to teeing off in Indiana’s 32-degree weather, which added a mental challenge that Yonker said the guys handled well.
According to Yonker, the team sat six back off the lead after day one and made a nine-shot comeback on the cold second day to win.
Junior Avery Hayes said, "I was especially motivated because the course we played at is only 45 minutes from the town I grew up in, and also where my father went to college. So winning a national championship this year meant a little extra to me just because of all the ties I have to Purdue University."
Graduate student George Eubank led the way by shooting 67-69 (-8), which Yonker said was a huge help, considering he had the best score on the entire field.
Sophomores Ethan Dummer and Colin Barrett both put up crucial scores in their first nationals to help pave the way, Yonker added.
With about three holes left to go on Sunday, Hayes said he knew if he could card a birdie or two in his last three holes, it could help push the team into first place. He made a birdie on the second to last hole.
"I was so happy to help push the team into the lead," he said.
Being the smallest school at the tournament adds to the fun, Yonker said.
“It was really the first time we put it together like that,” he added.
“Coming from a Division II school and showing out is always a great feeling,” he said. “Going up against powerhouse programs like University of Florida, Virginia, Ohio State, Clemson, Arizona State and Michigan, just to name a few, makes it feel even better when you find a way to hold the trophy at the end of the day.”