Co-Lin golf ranked 8th to start season
The 2016-2017 season proved to be one of the best in program history for the Copiah-Lincoln Community College golf team.
The Wolves carded impressive scores throughout the season, won three tournaments, and finished in the top three in eight out of 10 tournaments. The remarkable play continued into the post-season as Co-Lin claimed the 2017 NJCAA District D Championship at Grand Bear Golf Course in Saucier, Miss. The District title qualified the Wolves for the NJCAA National Championship at Longbow Golf Course in Messa, Arizona, where Co-Lin finished 11th.
The Wolves finished breakout season ranked No. 4 nationally and landed head coach Ronny Ross the prestigious Dave Williams National Coach of the Year Award.
Coach Ross has the same hopes for his team this season as two returning sophomores, former high school teammates Zach Smith and Matthew Scoville, look to lead the No. 8 pre-season ranked Wolves in 2017 and 2018.
“Smith and Scoville will be back for us, and are ready to step-up and lead these incoming freshman,” said Ross. “I have already heard these guys talking to one another on what they are going to have to do to lead the team back to the national tournament this year.”
Smith, a Madison native, is a pure ball striker that is known for his consistency off the tee, and his ability to keep himself out of trouble by utilizing course management. He has improved throughout his time and Co-Lin and has focused on improving his short game.
Scoville, also from Madison, contrasts Smith’s style of play with power and distance, and has the ability to card very low rounds. Scoville is a bomber off the tee, and uses his length to his advantage. He has excellent hands around the greens, and has worked to improve his putting to become the complete package.
Joining the sophomores in 2017 are five freshmen, Lucas Brewer of Tullahoma, Tennessee, Cameron Little of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Will Hulon of Wesson, Bryce Chapman of Hazlehurst and Bragg Eplin of Pascagoula.
“I’m looking forward to have these guys coming in and making an immediate difference,” said Ross. “We have a tough task next year going against some strong teams in the MACJC…these guys are going to have to show leadership and compete.”
All five players have similar styles of Zach Smith, consistent ball strikers that limit mistakes and capitalize on understanding the course.
The Wolves hope to remain a dominating force in the state, and have already shifted attention to the upcoming season.
“Winning a MACJC title, a District Championship, and another trip to the National Tournament are all attainable this season,” said Ross. “We know the talent that we are going to be facing, and it’s going to be tough, but we are going to work very hard all season long.”
Ross, entering his 17th year at the helm, looks to continue his tried and true coaching method that has produced several players that have continued careers after Co-Lin. Brandon Blakney, a NJCAA Division II Second Team All-American, will play for Belhaven University in 2017. He joins Philip Heine (Southern Mississippi, Jr.) and Jacob Ross (Mississippi State, RS Sr.) as Co-Lin alums playing at the next level.
“I try to take each guy and help them reach their potential,” said Ross. “If a kid wants to go to on to the next level from here, it is my job to help him achieve that. I focus on improving each player individually, and provide an atmosphere of camaraderie and competiveness to bring us together as a team.”
Ross plans to focus on changes and swing breakdowns in the fall half of the season, and implement the changes in the spring in an effort to build momentum throughout the season and peak late in the year to give the team a good chance of qualifying for the national tournament.