The Georgia club golf team finished fifth out of 27 teams at the two-day National Collegiate Club Golf Association (NCCGA) fall national championship tournament in Thackerville, Oklahoma this past weekend.
The Bulldogs entered the tournament sitting at No. 21 and hoped to bring their third national championship in the past 4 years back to Athens. Although Georgia shot 5 over par as a team on Saturday and finished the day tied for the lead with Clemson, it stumbled on Sunday and shot 16 over par. Clemson took home the title for the second year in a row.
Despite the team’s finish, captain Joe Reichard said he believes that the Bulldogs still managed to find success at the tournament.
Mitchell Rostowsky led the way on Saturday with a one-under 71, freshman Brandon Knight shot a 72, and Reichard shot a 73, which led to Georgia earning a spot in the final group. Reichard then shot a 71 on Sunday and made the second All-Tournament team.
The Bulldogs faced some difficulty early on Sunday after the team’s strong performance on Saturday. Reichard, a senior accounting major from Lawrenceville, Georgia, noted that the difference in the set-up and the conditions between the separate courses challenged the team, and led to a rough beginning on the day.
“We got off to a bad start. A lot of guys were making a lot of mistakes early, and we just couldn’t recover from that,” Reichard said. “Some guys that hadn’t seen the course started off at difficult holes and missed some big numbers.”
This experience led Reichard to recognize improvements must be made when mentally preparing for the next tournament.
“We are a really talented team,” he said. “The thing we struggle with since we’ve won those back-to back national championships is closing out the deal on Sunday.”
Beyond the tournament in Oklahoma, Reichard focused on the Georgia club golf team’s sustained success.
“It’s hard for a club golf team, or just a club team, to be successful for a long time,” he said. “We’ve been able to qualify for every national championship and finish in the top six every semester. That’s quite an accomplishment.”
Reichard says this sustained success speaks to the work ethic of his teammates and the nature of club sports in general. He hopes the offseason will provide the time to get strong for when play resumes in the middle of March.
“You have to be self-motivated,” Reichard said. “There’s no coach. I’m not telling people when to practice. A lot of our guys are really self-disciplined, and do care a lot about playing a club sport and being successful.”