GVSU men’s golf opens promising spring season with third-place finish at Las Vegas Desert Classic

The team practices pitching the ball onto the green. The team participated in some drills on Tuesday, September 19th, 2017.

The team practices pitching the ball onto the green. The team participated in some drills on Tuesday, September 19th, 2017.

D'Angelo Starks

The Grand Valley State men’s golf team kicked off its spring season at the Las Vegas Desert Classic over the spring break period. 

It was a strong performance for the Lakers as they finished third collectively as a team. The team shot 886 (+23) for the weekend, one shot away from tying second-place Oklahoma Christian University. West Florida, the No. 1 ranked program in Division II, finished in first, shooting -6 under par as a team. 

The Lakers had two golfers finish in the top 10: seniors Domenic Mancinelli and Alex Scott. Mancinelli turned in a great performance, finishing fourth with a three-round total of 213. Alex Scott finished tied for eighth with a three-round total of 219. 

“It was a pretty positive experience. We played well enough to have a pretty good showing, and we managed to beat some ranked teams by a lot,” said head coach Gary Bissell. “It also kind of exposed us. We played with the No. 1 team in the country the last two days, and it gave us a bird’s eye view of what we need to work on.”

The Lakers did come into the event with a bit of a disadvantage. Having to deal with Michigan winters, the team has to spend the majority of its time between the fall season and the spring season practicing indoors. So, facing off against teams who are located mostly in the South made it a little more difficult for the Lakers, who hadn’t golfed outdoors all winter, instead spending their time practicing at the Kelly Family Sports Center.

“You can’t simulate golf 100 percent, but luckily we have access to some great facilities,” Bissell said. “We mostly tried to work on skill stuff and enhancing skills. We can do nearly everything you can do on a golf course except for actually play. We work on trajectory, shot shaping and distance control. The main goal was to have everyone get a little better than they were in the fall.” 

The team is led by three captains, who also happen to be the top three golfers. Mancinelli, Scott and Mitchell White have proven themselves to Bissell as the three players he can rely on to post strong scores consistently. However, Bissell knows that if the players want to reach their goals, they will need to get production out of the fourth and fifth golfers on the team. Bissell believes they can get that type of production out of their fourth golfer, freshman Eric Nunn. 

“(Nunn is) mega-skilled, and he’s got a lot of great physical tools,” Bissell said. “For a freshman, he’s about as good as it gets at this level. He’s got some things to clean up, which we worked on over the winter. The physical stuff is there. It just comes down to him growing mentally a little bit and getting the intangibles down.” 

The Lakers are poised to have a strong spring season, and they have high expectations to match.

“Our main goal is to get better every day, and the culmination of that is we are always looking to the postseason,” Bissell said. “We want to win the Conference Championship, win our Super Regional and win Nationals.” 

The team hopes to get back outside and golf by the end of this month for practice. Until then, the Lakers will be traveling to Lexington, Kentucky, this weekend to play in the SVSU Spring Invitational.