Depth, experience to help GVSU men’s golf in 2015-16

GVL / Kevin Sielaff
Freshmen Bryce Messner, Alex Scott, and Mitchell White pose for a photo Friday, August 28th, 2015.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff Freshmen Bryce Messner, Alex Scott, and Mitchell White pose for a photo Friday, August 28th, 2015.

Brady McAtamney

The Grand Valley State men’s golf team has talent. The Grand Valley State men’s golf team has experience. The Grand Valley State men’s golf team has depth.

As the 2015-16 season gets underway, however, the Lakers still have plenty to work on.

“There’s a level of toughness that I feel like our team doesn’t really possess yet that’s necessary for playing collegiate golf in the Midwest,” said GVSU head coach Gary Bissell. “I think that we need to get tougher for sure.”

Last season, the Lakers finished in the middle of the GLIAC. This year, GVSU is looking to improve upon last year’s finish and take the next step into GLIAC – and national – success.

Hosting the 2016 NCAA Midwest/Central Super Regional and a strong recruiting class are two ways to climb the ladder of success, and for GVSU, both have come to fruition. Freshmen Mitchell White, Alex Scott and Bryce Messner will join the battalion of swingers and begin a quest to accomplish the ultimate goal — advance past the regionals and win a national championship.

All three freshmen were ranked in the top 1,500 high school golfers in the country, and some turned down Division I offers to become Lakers.

White, Scott and Messner bring an intriguing crew to GVSU golf this season, but, above all, provide more depth on an already strong squad.

Seniors Chris Beltzer, Tyler Polulak and Austin Eccleton will lead the charge for the Lakers. Beltzer is a lead-by-example type golfer, with a penchant for focus and determination.

“It could be 38 degrees and raining sideways and you’re not going to hear a peep from him,” Bissell said. “He’s really good at just accepting it and saying, ‘OK, here we go.'”

Polulak earned All-GLIAC Second Team honors in 2014-15, and averaged a score of 74.86 over 21 rounds. Eccleton, a Jackson, Michigan native, has played in tournaments every year since his freshman season at GVSU.

The depth of the team Bissell has assembled is a major strength for the Lakers.

“We’ve got eight guys with whom I could pull names out of a hat and play them in any order and we’d be the same team,” Bissell said.

Among those eight guys are sophomore Domenic Mancinelli and redshirt freshman Brent Marshall. Mancinelli was the 2014-15 GLIAC Men’s Golfer of the Year and All-GLIAC Second Team honoree, and also fills the slot of team leader.

“I think we’re a Top 25 team this year,” Mancinelli said. “We’re hosting the super regionals, and I think we have a realistic shot of getting out of there and going on to win a title.”

Similar to last year, the Lakers may not having a ringer who can go out every single day and put on a show on the course.

Bissell, however, has someone in mind who could fill that role.

“Tyler Polulak. It’s his senior season, he seems motivated to go out on a strong note and really improve his game. I think he’s going to have an excellent year,” he said.

Bissell feels the Lakers have the talent to be better than the 2014-15 season, but so does GVSU’s competition. Firm expectations are difficult to nail down at this point – it is early, after all. However, if this diverse team continues to improve, the Lakers could find themselves in the thick of things come spring.