During the fall, Mean Green golf programs utilized tournaments in Hawaii and Bahamas as a way to help continue their club’s morale and culture.
For most people, trips to exotic destinations are a reason to take a vacation and escape reality, but for North Texas, it’s a way to help find recruits, play different competition and compete in a tournament for the players to enjoy. Women’s golf head coach Michael Akers believes their recent Bahamas Invitational tournament held in Paradise Island, Bahamas on the week of Oct. 28 ended on a positive note to close their fall season.
“We knew coming in [to the Bahamas tournament] that the weather conditions were going to benefit us,” Akers said. “Having players from warm climates really helped us out that weekend. Their weather ended up holding true to what we thought it was going to be.”
During the three-day tournament, women’s golf finished tied for ninth place Monday and finished sixth both Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 29. The Mean Green had a player finish in the top 20 each day. Freshman Emilie Ricaud tied for 12th and shot 1-under Monday, Oct. 28, sophomore Patricia Sinolungan tied for 16th the next day scoring +1 and senior Lauren Cox tied for 14th for a par score on Wednesday, Oct. 30.
“We played really well and I saw some great results during the trip,” Akers said. “To beat some of the powerhouse programs and to be out there was a lot of fun for us.”
The Bahamas Invitational for women’s golf was planned a year in advance by Akers and the coaching staff. The tournament officials organized the participating teams to stay at Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas where the Mean Green enjoyed their time.
“The whole team enjoyed the resort and all the other activities we were around,” freshman women’s golfer Marija Jucmane said. “Dinners, riding jet skis, swimming with dolphins were some of the fun things we did that I’ll never forget.”
Men’s golf head coach Brad Stracke scheduled his team to play in the Ka’anapali Classic Collegiate Invitational held in Lahaina, Hawaii the weekend of Nov. 1-3. Much like women’s golf, this tournament was significant to the program to compete against top-ranked competition as well.
Men’s golf as a team placed 18th on Friday, shooting +6, fell to 19th place at +13 Saturday and rounding out Sunday at 13th place with +2. Junior Kristof Ulenaers finished his Friday performance tied for 47th place at -1, and junior Viktor Forslund scored -4 to place tied for 36th that Sunday.
The players and coaching staff were able to partake in the same type of fun activities in their hotel and around the beach during the free time they had while in Hawaii.
“Besides playing golf, we still had lots of fun of the course and enjoyed our time there,” Stracke said. “One thing our players knew that the tournament was to stay focused and locked in when it was our time to play.”
Both Akers and Stracke recognize that these tournaments scheduled ahead of time are fun while they last but are also a recruiting tool to their advantage. Having a tournament on the schedule to somewhere like Hawaii, Bahamas or Cabo (from 2017 fall season) is a way to draw in golfers that have a traveling interest while playing.
“While everyone looks forward to these kinds of events, it’s absolutely huge for our recruiting,” Akers said. “When recruits get on our website and they see we play in tournaments like the Bahamas, it helps get our name out. We still get invited to good local tournaments like SMU and Texas that don’t cost a lot, but those tournaments help save up for ones like the Bahamas.”
Players from both programs viewed their experiences in the tropical islands as a way to embrace their golf game and to rid themselves of the stresses of school work throughout the trip.
“For this tournament specifically, I really wanted to enjoy the weather and my time there,” Jucmane said. “Before we left, I did all my homework so I wouldn’t have to worry about it. With all the fun we had, I still tried to play my best and not lose sight of the competition.”
The Mean Green golf teams will continue their play in the spring semester. Men’s golf opens their season in Westlake Village, California on Jan. 27 at the Southwestern Invitational and women’s golf competes Feb. 3 at the SMU/DAC Challenge.
Featured Image: Junior Viktor Forslund tees off during practice. Image by Will Baldwin