Rider leaves GVSU golf in good hands

Courtesy / GV Sports Info
Jack Rider

Courtesy / GV Sports Info Jack Rider

Adam Knorr

With a name like a movie hero and a drive that would make Dale Earnhardt jealous, Jack Rider has cemented his place in Grand Valley State golf for years to come.

Rider, formerly a redshirt senior, has graduated and begun preparing for life after college golf. The next step for Rider will be a relocation to Chicago and a refocus as he will forgo studying greens for studying for a chiropractic degree at the National University of Health Sciences.

Rider was redshirted as a freshman in 2010-11, but came out of the gate firing next year. In his first season, the Hackett, Michigan native was an All-GLIAC Honorable Mention.

The next three seasons, Rider was named to the All-GLIAC First Team. In the 2014-15 season, Rider averaged a team-best 73.23. He notched 5-under-par on the third day of the GLIAC Championship – good for the fifth-lowest round in GVSU history.

Now, as Rider is forced to walk away, the question becomes: how do the Lakers cope with their loss?

“You don’t replace a guy like Jack,” said GVSU head coach Gary Bissell. “I think it takes two or three guys. What we’ve done is added some depth… Maybe down the road one of these new freshmen can get to that level.”

That level included a standout senior season which included a season-opening win at the University of Indianapolis Brickyard Invitational, where Rider posted a 4-under-par 140 – the fourth-lowest 36-hole score in Laker history.

Rider carded eight par-or-better rounds in the 2014-15 season, and, perhaps most notably, recorded only one triple bogey or worse all year.

“He’s ultra-consistent,” Bissell said. “Driving the golf ball would probably be his biggest strength. He’s fairly long and really straight of the tee. He doesn’t hit balls in hazards. He’s almost always in the fairway.”

Rider’s numbers would be impressive for even some of the top-caliber Division II recruits, but Rider saw little interest from schools above the NAIA level.

GVSU interested him for academic reasons, and, after enrolling in 2010, Rider spoke to former Laker head coach Don Underwood.

Underwood offered Rider a spot to walk on to the team, dressed the newcomer with a redshirt and never regretted the decision.

Now, after countless rounds at The Meadows G.C. and countless balls hit at the driving range, Rider’s tenure has come to a close. The influx of freshman talent will make the loss easier to bear for the Lakers, and Rider has confidence in the future of the program.

“I think they’ll respond positively,” Rider said. “I tried to leave a bit of a mark on and off the course that I hope the younger guys in the program really learned from.

“Guys like Dom (Mancinelli) and Brent Marshall are both really solid golfers but more importantly they’re very, very committed on and off the course,” Rider said. “It’s a big loss but they don’t ever have to rebuild. They bring in a lot of talent which is the benefit for playing for a program like GV.”

Rider’s career drew to a halt following a 17th place finish at the NCAA Midwest/Central Super Regional, where the Lakers failed to qualify for the NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championship.

Both Rider and the team felt they had come up short of accomplishing their goals, but that’s not to say the season was a bust.

“I think overall it was a pretty successful year,” Rider said. “Obviously we didn’t get as far as we’d liked, but this team came so much further than anybody though we would. Overall, we got so much better in the span of a year.”

Now, it’s time for Jack Rider to turn his back and walk purposefully off into the distance. The program behind him isn’t in movie-magic mid-explosion, however.

After all, he strengthened it.