32 Iowa Conference titles
2015 Iowa Conference finish: 1st
Iowa Conference championships: 32 (31 in past 40 years)
NCAA Division III tourney appearances: 33 (31 in past 40 years)
NCAA Division III top-10 national team finishes: 11
2015 all-Iowa Conference players: 4 (Desmond Stoll, 1st; Adam Squires, 2nd; Jon Prescott, 8th; Clay Curwin, 9th)
Starters lost: 5 (Adam Squires, David Watson, Desmond Stoll, Clay Curwin, Jon Prescott)
Starters returning: 0
Letterwinners lost/returning: 5/1
Coming off its 32nd Iowa Conference title in the last 40 years, the Central College men’s golf team will have to rely on youth to keep its string of dominance running.
The Dutch placed 16th at last season’s NCAA Division III tournament, but return just one letterwinner, senior Jared Nepomuceno.
“We are extremely young,” coach Chad Green said. “But at the same time, I think we are extremely talented. Our youth is not an excuse.”
Green knows consistency will play a big role in his team’s season.
“We had some really good rounds of 290 or better this fall,” he said. “And at the same time we had some rounds above 320. That shows our youth and inexperience.”
The goal is always the same for the Dutch.
“We want to win the Iowa Conference,” Green said. “That being said, we want to play to the best of our abilities and put in hard work. If we are developing and getting better every day, I’m okay with that.”
Nepomuceno will look to lead a group of young golfers with his experience. His 53 career rounds are more than double any other returner. Of the five golfers that saw the most action in the fall, he carded the lowest average round at 76.5 after an average of 77 last spring.
“Jared is the smartest and most intelligent golfer that I’ve ever had play for me,” Green said. “He’s going to be our rock, the guy we always depend on. He’s the only one with experience and I’m looking for big things out of him in his last semester.”
Junior Brock Morris returns after averaging 77.7 in the fall, including a career-best tie for second at the William Penn Invitational Oct. 11-12. He averaged 77.3 in seven rounds last spring.
“Brock has a lot of talent,” Green said. “He’s come a long way mentally in his last two or three seasons. If he continues to work on his mental game, he’ll be really good. I’m hoping the experience he gained this fall sinks in and he learns from it.”
Sophomore Trevor Schweinefus will had a strong fall, shaving almost seven shots off his 83.5 stroke average last spring with a 76.7 mark.
“Trevor was my shock of the fall,” Green said. “He struggled in his freshman year, but came out and really played well. He works hard on and off the golf course and that’s going to pay off.”
Junior Kacie Broeg fired a career-low 67 in the fall on the way to averaging 77.3 in 12 rounds. Last spring, he played just five rounds, averaging 80.6.
“Kacie is such a steady player for us,” Green said. “He’s probably never going to give us a 65, but at the same time he isn’t going to give us an 82 either. He knows his strengths and weaknesses and I am looking forward to his development this spring.”
Last season’s team most valuable freshman, Ryan Minor, returns hungry for more. The sophomore averaged 78.5 last spring before carding an average of 79 over 12 rounds in the fall.
“Ryan is going to do big things for us,” Green said. “He saw very little time, if any, on the varsity or even JV team last spring. He worked hard on his game in the summertime and played well in the fall.”
Senior Sam Houge is looking for his first significant varsity playing time this spring after just two varsity rounds in the past two years. He averaged 79.1 this fall after an average of 77.6 last spring in five rounds.
“Houge played a lot of tournaments (four) this fall,” Green said. “He gained a lot of experience and hopefully that will help him out this spring.”
Nash Bucher is looking to crack the varsity as a freshman. He won the final fall tournament, the William Penn Invitational, playing for the third team, while averaging 77.8 strokes per round.
“Nash struggled a little bit out of the gates in the fall, but ended on the highest note he could,” Green said. “He’s the only freshman I’ve ever had win a tournament and hopefully he can keep that momentum rolling this spring.”
Junior Sev Stoffel, sophomores Chris Beaubien and Hunter Sickels, as well as freshman Carter Mallett will all look to make an impact at the varsity level, as well.
Green is assisted by Clint Brown, who has been associated with the program since 1998 as either a player or coach, and former Dutch golfer Justin Livingston.
“The biggest thing my assistants bring is experience in golf, and most importantly, Dutch golf,” Green said.
“Justin had an amazing career here,” Green added. “He was our number one golfer for three years. He went to three national tournaments and has a lot of experience in college golf at the highest level.
“I’m glad to see Clint back, even if it’s at a volunteer level. He’s an asset you can’t duplicate. You could have the best golf instructor in the world come on your staff, but he wouldn’t have that passion for Dutch golf like Clint does.”
Pella’s Bos Landen Golf Club, Central’s home course, is less than two miles from campus and rates four stars on Golf Digest. The par-72 course measures more than 7,000 yards.
“Bos (Landen) is a tremendous facility,” Green said. “There’s a reason it was ranked as the top public course in the state five times and most challenging public course in the state eight times. It’s probably one of the hardest, if not the hardest course we play all year long, including national championship courses. If you can shoot well at Bos (Landen), you can shoot well anywhere.”
Central also has on-campus golf practice facilities.
“We have to use our indoor facilities to our advantage,” Green said. “Not many schools in this part of the country have the kind of indoor facilities we do.”
Outdoors, the Ryerson Range opened in 2005 and includes two chipping greens and practice bunkers, 20 tee boxes and scattered target greens.
The Dutch open the spring March 9 at the Southern Cali Shootout in San Diego over spring break, before traveling to Maryville, Mo. for the Graceland Spring Invitational March 25-26.
The Illinois Wesleyan Invitational is April 1-2 at Ironwood Golf Club in Normal, Illinois, where Central grabbed a runner-up finish last season.
“There is always a high-class field at the Illinois Wesleyan tournament,” Green said. “It brings in a lot of competition from all over the region and even some good out-of-region teams. It’s a mainstay on the schedule because of the field.”
The Dutch head to Eureka, Mo. and the Aberdeen Golf Club for the Webster (Mo.)-hosted Gorlok Invitational April 11-12.
“The biggest advantage of this tournament is seeing teams we don’t normally see,” Green said.
Central will defend its title at the Iowa Conference tournament April 22-23 and April 29-30. The opening 36 holes will be played at Finkbine Golf Club in Iowa City before rounds three and four at Oneonta Golf and Country Club in Decorah.
“The conference tournament will be interesting this year,” Green said. “I’ve never been to the course in Decorah, and the same holds true for all but one of our players. Fortunately for us, Trevor (Schweinefus) is a member there, so we will have a little bit of inside information on how to play it. But it will be interesting to see how that course plays and the challenges it puts forth.”