by Ty Schadt, Sports Editor

The men’s golf team is excited to kick off their 2017 season this upcoming weekend in Sea Island, Georgia. This will be the Eagles’ second consecutive year competing in the Coastal Georgia Winter Invitational, after a fourteenth place finish in 2016.

Each school competing in the tournament will send its top five golfers. After each round, their four lowest scores will be added up, and the team with the lowest total score at the end will be crowned the winner. The Eagles’ top five consists of senior Zach Johnson, juniors Matt McCurry and Jeff Reno, sophomore Ben Campbell and freshman Michael Troutman.

Playing golf in February is a rarity for golfers in Kentucky. The weather typically isn’t nice enough this time of the year to hit the course, and Head Coach Joseph Barr said that’s the message he’s been stressing to his men. “It’s huge to get them started playing this early,” he said.

It’s exciting the Eagles will get to begin their season in such a highly touted tournament, especially considering the amount of work and practice they’ve put in over the offseason. They last competed in tournaments during the fall, most notably finishing fourth in the River States Conference Preview. “We played a lot of good competition, and I was able to get a good sense of my team during that time,” said Barr.

While almost every golf team competes in the fall, the winter presents a looming challenge for those hoping to continue practicing outdoors. Since golfers don’t get much time on actual courses during the cold months, they are at a greater risk of regression. Luckily for the Eagles, that isn’t the case. Thanks to the facility of Man O’ War Golf, Asbury’s golfers have access to heated stalls overlooking a driving range, video cameras to analyze swing form and a putting green. This allows the Eagles to get in reps and exercises other teams can’t during the winter season.

Not only is the facility beneficial for golfers, it significantly helps the coaching staff analyze their talent. “It allows me to see where the guys are really at and who is ready to go before the season starts,” said Barr. “I’ve been impressed with their progression so far.”

When Barr took over as the head coach three years ago, he knew he was in for a rebuilding process. “I’m extremely pleased with where our program is,” he said. “We’re stable, our young guys are developing and each year we’re going to be there. We’ll have the pieces together, it’s just a matter of being ready to play on any given day.” Campbell agreed, claiming he knows the team has what it takes to bring home a conference championship.

There’s no arguing with Campbell’s statement as last year the team was in the thick of things during the conference tournament, finishing ten strokes out of first place. “One goal that we always set for ourselves is trying to be better than the last time we played. Golf is about constant improvement and that’s what we aim for, trying to be better than the last time we stepped out on the course,” said McCurry.

It appears the Coastal Georgia Winter Invitational is the first building block in what will be a promising season for the Eagles, and hopefully one that brings great success to its golfers and coaches.