The ACU golf team didn’t stop to play in the sun during spring break. Instead, they played in two tournaments totaling 108 competitive holes.
The Wildcats tied for 15th in the Bash at the Beach in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, last Tuesday. They closed the week Sunday in fourth place at the Pinehurst Intercollegiate in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
“Everything put together, I think it was a positive week,” said Brandon Wilkins, a junior from Aledo. “We had some ups and downs, but we learned a lot and finished strong in the end.”
Their campaign in the Carolinas began the last Monday with 36 holes at the Surf Golf and Beach Club. Immediately the ‘Cats faced adversity. The course played unlike anything they had ever seen, and it showed in their scores. The greens were slow, and the ball didn’t roll like they were used to.
“I was frankly surprised we didn’t adapt quicker,” said Tom Shaw, head coach. “But overall, it was a good learning experience because we’ll see greens like that in the future, and great teams adapt quicker than other teams.”
Corbin Renner, senior from Little Rock, Arkansas, was one of the only Wildcats to adjust to the course. He shot 72, 70 and 74 over his three rounds and finished 22nd out of the field of 105. Dillon Vaughn, junior from Joshua, carded a 74, 76 and 74 to join Renner in the top half of the field. No other Wildcat finished better than 50th.
The team then had a two-day break before travelling to their next tournament. They spent that time practicing at the University of South Carolina’s indoor practice facility in Columbia, South Carolina.
They travelled north to Pinehurst No. 8 for a three-day tournament on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was a unique tournament structure for the team as they only had to play one round a day for three days.
“It was more like a marathon instead of sprint,” Wilkins said. “It was nice to know you only had to focus on 18 holes a day and not try to play 36 right off the bat.”
After the first day, the Wildcats were in second place and three of them were tied for fifth. Renner, Wilkins and Vaughn each shot a 4-over-75 to be among the leaders after day one.
But day two brought a unique set of struggles. It rained all day and Vaughn was hampered by an illness that nearly prevented him from playing. The team did not respond well to the rain and fell to fifth.
However, Renner managed to shoot a 73 and move into third place. He closed the Sunday tournament strong with a 74 and held on to his third spot. The rest of the team had a strong day and moved up a spot to forth.
“The second round set us back too far to be able to catch the leaders,” Shaw said. “While our new rain gear performed flawlessly, we did not play very well as a team.”
Renner once again proved himself a truly competitive golfer through both tournaments. Vaughn provided solid support in the two slot, and Wilkins carded some nice rounds in the three slot. Still, the ‘Cats will look for more consistency from the bottom of their line-up as they move forward, but the trip remains a positive one in their eyes.
“We did too many good things and learned too much to hang our heads on anything in either tournament,” Wilkins said. “We see where we need to improve and step-up, and I think that last round gives us something to be proud of going forward.”