31 Iowa Conference titles
2014 Iowa Conference finish: 2nd
Iowa Conference championships: 31 (30 in past 39 years)
NCAA Division III tourney appearances: 32 (30 in past 39 years)
NCAA Division III top-10 national team finishes: 11
Letterwinners lost/returning: 3/6
Starters lost: 0
Starters returning: 5 (Adam Squires, David Watson, Desmond Stoll, Clay Curwin, Jon Prescott)
2014-15 captains: Clay Curwin, Desmond Stoll, Jared Nepomuceno
An experienced Central College men’s golf team is looking to regain its familiar position atop the Iowa Conference standings and a spot in the NCAA Division III tournament in 2015.
The Dutch had won five consecutive league titles before last season’s second-place finish, but return their lowest six scorers from a year ago.
“We have a lot of seniors this year on the roster and the team was more than disappointed by our finish last year,” said coach Chad Green. “We have some unfinished business to take care of this year.”
Central’s been the state’s dominant program, with 31 league titles and 32 NCAA tourney berths. But Green said it is important for the golfers to take the season one shot at a time.
“Our goals never really change,” said the fifth-year head coach. “We want to play as well as we can in every tournament. We want to take it one tournament at a time and not get too far ahead of ourselves. We can’t think about mid-May until we take care of mid-March.”
The Dutch will start their season March 19 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Central’s veteran lineup features four players with NCAA tournament experience and six players who have competed at the conference meet.
“There should be no surprises anymore,” said Green. “They know what to expect. Mentally they should be stronger this year because of their experience.”
Senior Desmond Stoll is looking to use the fall season as a springboard. He averaged a sizzling 71.8 and finished in the top three individually in all five fall tournaments. Stoll finished second at last spring’s conference meet with a 76-69-77-77—289.
“Desmond has been rock solid since his freshman year,” said Green. “He was in the top five as a freshman and never left. I look for big things out of him this season.”
Senior David Watson averaged a steady 74.2 in the fall. He won the Division III Midwest Region Classic in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin in September with a 73-70—143 and also tied for second at the William Penn Invitational shooting a 72-68—140.
“David Watson has been a really good player for us,” said Green. “He has a really strong work ethic and practices all the time. He will be another one we depend on.”
Senior Adam Squires led the team with a 75.2 average last spring and capped off his season with a fifth-place finish at the conference championships.
“Adam Squires has the most tournament experience out of anyone on the team,” said Green. “He went to the national meet as a freshman and a sophomore and he has played in every conference tournament since he’s been here.”
Another senior back for the Dutch is Jon Prescott. He placed in the top 10 in each of the last three fall tournaments.
“Jon Prescott has surprised me time after time with some really low scores,” said Green. “This fall he was really steady and he is someone we can depend on.”
Senior Clay Curwin has steadily improved, Green said.
“Clay Curwin is typical of what we want at Central College,” he said. “As a freshman he averaged 82 or 83. Last fall he averaged 76. He has developed into quite a player and he is capable of putting up really low numbers.”
The experience for the Dutch is not limited to their senior class. Junior Jared Nepomuceno played in the national tournament as a freshman in 2013. He returns to the course after taking part in Central College’s study abroad program this fall.
Junior Sam Houge, junior Walker Adams, sophomore Brock Morris and sophomore Kacie Broeg are reliable lineup options as well.
Despite the senior-heavy lineup, Green is excited about the future of the program.
“This freshman class is probably just as, if not more talented than the seniors were when they were freshmen,” said Green.
Green is assisted by Clint Brown, who is in his 11th year on staff. Brown was the interim head coach in 2010 and led Central to a conference title and an NCAA berth. This will be the former Dutch player’s final year on staff as he begins a new position with the Iowa Golf Association.
“His experience really helps us out,” said Green. “I hope Clint gets to finish his tenure here on a very strong note.”
Central’s home course is Pella’s Bos Landen Golf Club. The four-star (Golf Digest) par-72 course is located close to campus and measures over 7,000 yards.
“We are very fortunate here at Central,” said Green. “To have the quality golf course that we do just a few miles from campus is tremendous.”
The Dutch are also one of only a handful of Division III schools with an on-campus practice facility. The Ryerson Range opened in 2005 and includes two chipping greens and practice bunkers, 20 tee boxes and scattered target greens.
“When we can go out and have really good practices on campus I think it just helps us become more and more competitive,” said Green.
Central is also embracing technology this offseason. The team is using a FlightScope launch monitor, funded by the Central Club, the college’s athletics booster organization.
“I want to thank Central Club for our FlightScope launch monitor,” said Green. “That is getting a lot of use this winter and will continue to get use going forward. I can’t thank them enough for supplying the donation to purchase that.”
The Dutch will compete in five tournaments before the conference meet begins in late April. They will start their season March 19 at the Bash at the Beach in Daytona Beach, Florida that will feature some Division II schools.
Central will then compete at the Gorlok Invitational hosted by Webster (Mo.) March 29-30.
“That’s a really good tournament and we will see a lot of good teams from our region,” said Green. “It is played at two different courses which is unique. One is a really nice country club and the other is a links-style course.”
The Dutch will then play in a tournament hosted by No. 4 Illinois Wesleyan before heading to the Loras Invitational at Thunder Hills Country Club in Peosta, the site of two of the four rounds of the conference tournament. Green said his team will benefit from playing the course before the league meet.
“The big thing is you get to play it in a competition and not just in a practice round,” said Green. “You get that competition pressure and that’s the reason we are going.”
The first two league tourney rounds are at the Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City April 24-25 with the final 36 holes May 1-2 at Thunder Hills.