Jim’s Day 4 Notebook
Vignettes and observations from the 2018 NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championships by retired Greensboro News & Record reporter Jim Schlosser, a 1965 graduate of Guilford College.
This Tale Has a Very Soggy Ending
Dark skies loomed Tuesday through Friday, but the gods of golf held until the end before soaking the Grandover Resort and Spa, where the 2018 NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championship ended a four-day run Friday.
Storms suspended Tuesday’s opening round. Lightning caused a brief delay in play Wednesday. Thursday’s forecast looked ominous, but wasn’t too bad apart from a few passing showers. Drizzle fell on the last three threesomes Friday afternoon, but nothing to make golfers and spectators uncomfortable. If the tournament had only ended then. Two student-athletes had to stay around for a playoff to determine Division III’s individual champion. They got drenched. The downpour, expected all week, finally fell.
The wet, three-hole playoff ended with Washington and Lee University sophomore Brian Peccie of Norfolk, Virginia, emerging as the winner. Peccie redeemed himself. He arrived at the 72nd hole with a one-shot lead, but bogeyed the par-5 hole and had to beat sophomore Logan Young of Concordia University (Texas) in the three-hole playoff.
The golfer, whose school and name shall remain anonymous, lifted the flag stick out of the hole on the 18th green Thursday and let it fall to the grass. He then realized his mistake and hurriedly picked up the flag and handed it to a coach to hold while he putted.
One Final Round (Part I)
Golf courses are often remembered by their finishing hole and the setting it occupies.
The par-5 18th on the East Coast of the Grandover Resort and Spa will be memorable for those who watched Friday as Methodist University of Fayetteville won the NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championship for a record 12th time. Hometown Guilford College finished fifth and Greensboro College was 14th among the 18 schools that made the 36-hole cut.
Friday’s spectators, many students’ parents and grandparents, stood or sat in golf carts on a hill that extends from the green about 100 yards into the fairway. They watched victorious Methodist contestants run onto the green after their last man putted out. They stayed to watch Washington and Lee University sophomore Brian Peccie survive a rainy, three-hole playoff to win the individual title.
The 18th hole’s signature features include a narrow lake that begins at a stone wall and flows under another stone wall where it drops into to the lake that continues past the side of the green. The water can be crossed by an arching stone bridge behind the green. Another stone bridge can be seen in the distance.
And looming over all of this is the 11-story Grandover hotel.
Adding to the charm, at least for a while Friday, were a mom and dad Canadian goose and their five goslings. They came out of the lake to the fringe of the green as players putted. The mother and dad stood watch while their babies pecked grass. Later, the family waddled off through a bunker, without bothering to rake it, and returned to the lake.
NCAA spectators have enjoyed 18th’s scenery four times, in 2011, 1014, 2015 and this year. The NCAA has been kind to Greensboro.
Unfortunately, the event won’t return anytime soon. The NCAA has announced sites for the next four years. Greensboro isn’t included.
Next year, the tournament – which draws more than 40 Division Three schools – will be played in Nicholasville, Kentucky, and hosted by Transylvania University, alma mater of Guilford College golf coach Justin Tereshko.
NCAA Division III officials have decided that its sports championship will no longer favor one site. Last fall, the Alonzo Stagg Bowl, Division III’s football title game, was played for the last time in Salem, Virginia. The bowl had been there since 1993. It moves this year near Houston, Texas, and two years later to Canton, Ohio.
Salem was also the host for years for the Division III men’s basketball championship. Next season it relocates to Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The NCAA’s decision may be fair, but Greensboro and Salem feel let down because they provided nice facilities and a good time for visiting schools.
One Final Round (Part I)
Most of the 200-plus golfers in the 2018 NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championships that ended Friday were underclassmen. They’ll tee it up in their school colors for a while longer.
As for the 43 seniors, their college careers came to a close this May afternoon. Four years of countless practice swings, miles and miles of van rides, and camaraderie with some of their first, true golfing buddies ended as they walked off the 18th hole of the Grandover Resort and Spa’s East Course.
“You’re kind of on edge because you are thinking, ‘What’s next?’” says Greensboro College’s Luke Grogan. Grogan, of Canton, North Carolina, graduated this month from the school on West Market Street downtown with his teammate and twin brother, Levi.
Levi went out in fine style Friday. He finished one-under par for 72 holes, good for fifth place in the individual competition. Luke was nine-over par and finished 37th.
The Grogans are certain of this: they won’t be storing their clubs and looking for conventional jobs.
“We both want to play on a professional golf tour,” Luke said. “This tournament is a good stepping place to prepare for that.”
Before teeing off in Friday’s final round, Levi, who was practicing next to his twin on the putting green (with their parents watching from behind the ropes), said he’s glad he and his twin brother came down from the mountains to Greensboro four years ago. As part of the Pride golf program they’ve played in two NCAA championships. Greensboro finished fourth last when the event was played in Florida.
They chose Greensboro College and its namesake city because of the location, the weather, and “you have five spectacular courses to play on,” Levi said. Greensboro’s home course is Bryan Park, but team members also play practice rounds at Greensboro Country Club, Sedgefield Country Club and Starmount Golf Club.
Luke said sadness won’t exactly describe the way he and his brother will feel when they putt out for the last time as members of the Pride.
“Not really because there are more putts in the future,” he said. “This is only the end of the chapter.”
Ben VanScoyk ended his career as a Calvin College Knight Friday with a birdie on the par-five 18th hole.
He felt kind of lonesome because his teammates were not there watching. They were already back in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Calvin’s home. The Knights missed Wednesday’s 36-hole cut, but tournament rules allow six low-scoring players from teams no longer in the competition to stay and compete for the individual title.
VanScoyk and three others were tied for the sixth spot after 36 holes. A playoff began late Wednesday and was halted by darkness. It resumed early the next morning, with VanScoyk winning with a birdie on the third playoff hole.
As for the end of his collegiate career, “I don’t know what the future holds.”
Like many of the players here, he wants to play pro golf. But he knows there are not many former Division III players on the PGA Tour.
That’s why he majored in accounting at Calvin. He did an internship last summer with an investment firm. Golf or no golf, he will have plenty of memories from his four playing for Calvin, especially at the NCAA Division III Championships.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “I’m proud of the way I competed.”
Honor the (Pin) Flag
At all other courses in the United States dropping a flag stick onto the green is normal and natural.
However, it wasn’t the patriotic thing to do at Grandover Resort and Spa during the third round of the NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championships. The American flag was atop all 18 pins on the East Course. Players were asked not to let the flag touch the ground.
A few didn’t, but most leaned the flag sticks against their golf bags or handed it to someone to hold.
Folds of Honor, an organization devoted to helping disabled vets and the families of fallen service men and women, has been partnering with the NCAA to promote the Folds’ mission. At a banquet Monday night before the start of the 72-hole tournament, the 42 teams and seven individuals were assigned the name of a veteran to symbolically play for during the tournament.
Also, on Thursday, placards honoring two fallen veterans stood beside the 1st and 10th tees, which share a common tee box on the East Course. Golfers, coaches, and tournament officials also wore triangular lapel pins with white stars on a field of blue.
For Friday’s final round, Old Glory gave way to a white flag with the NCAA name. Players didn’t hesitate to let the pin fall to the grass.