Men's Golf

Men’s Golf Ready to Compete in the Spring Season

Steve Woltmann | Loyola AthleticsThe Ramblers will play in their next tournament when they travel to the Jackrabbit Invitational in Boulder City, Nevada March 11-12.

With almost four months between fall and spring competitions, the Loyola men’s golf team is hoping to improve in the spring season after an unsatisfactory end to its fall competition. 

The Ramblers came up short in the fall when they finished in a fifth place tie at the Flyer Invitational in Kettering, Ohio, Oct. 29. Now, they’ve spent the early part of this semester working to fill in the mental and physical gaps in their performance. 

“I’m very excited to compete,” Loyola graduate golfer Ryan Magee said of the men’s spring season. “Our swings are great, our mental games are great, this could be a good jumpstart to a really good spring season.”

Loyola head coach Erik Hoops said he reflected a lot on the skill set of his team and the preparation it has done thus far, such as working on players’ swings and finding what works best for them. 

Hoops said the team’s past successes — such as last fall’s fourth place finish at the 2021 Zach Johnson Invitational in Des Moines, Iowa — will motivate golfers to stay on top of their game.

Drake University gave the Ramblers more trouble than most other Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) teams in the fall, winning over Loyola by a seven point margin on the first day. The Ramblers were ultimately able to place fourth after beating the Bulldogs by one point.   

“What I told the guys is that each one of the schools that we saw last fall outside of Illinois State, we beat them,” Hoops said. “The fall proved that when we are playing our best golf, we have a pretty good chance of beating all the MVC schools out there.”

In its second-to-last tournament of the fall, the Ramblers notched a third place finish out of 17 teams at the Bubba Barnett Intercollegiate in Jonesboro, Arkansas Oct. 12. Loyola completed its fall season at the Flyer Invitational, finishing with a 297 overall team score — tied for fifth with its former Horizon League rival, Cleveland State University. 

Notably, graduate student Devin Johnson concluded the fall season with a one-over-par 72. In the final round of golf at the NCR Country Club, he closed out an impressive Flyer Invitational performance with an even-par of 213 to earn fourth place.

To kick off the spring, the Ramblers closed out the Earl Yestingsmeier match play Feb. 8 in Dade City, Florida with a seventh place overall finish. The team also defeated its inner-city rival DePaul University by a score of 3.5-2.5, finishing the two-day match play with a 1-1-1 record.

In preparation for the spring season, the Ramblers have been practicing in the Alfie Norville Practice Facility with a focus on their short game and getting on the green. Magee has played a role in ensuring the team is paying close attention to their mental game on and off the course. 

“This year has been the most productive offseason since I’ve been here, and I’m locked in to compete,” Magee said. “I think there is a reason why we had three to four guys come back for this year that could have opted out or graduated, but I’m excited to see what can happen.”

Graduate student Nick Bavaro, junior Zach Walsh and redshirt senior Tyler Anderson, all won over their DePaul foes in individual rounds at the Earl Yestingsmeier match play Feb. 8. They also tied their respective teammates in points earned.  

Magee said he struggled last fall with his mental game and his putting. However, he said he has improved for the spring season mainly thanks to the long break between semesters, which allowed him to put in extra work. 

“I spent a lot of time doing technical work in the winter, and I got a new putter for the spring, and I’m trying to clear out all those bad memories,” Magee said. “The break has been perfect, and I’m excited to see what this new putter and mindset can do for me in the spring.”

Johnson said he tries not to let a bad outing or a bad shot during solo competition distract him from playing their best golf. To him, it’s about staying in the present and focusing on the task at hand. 

“What’s important to me is staying in the present and not letting any bad shots creep into the mind,” Johnson said. “That’s what I will be focusing on moving forward, staying in the present, being in the moment and trying to hit my best golf shots as well as I can.” 

The Loyola men’s golf team is set to play in the Jackrabbit Invitational at Boulder Creek Golf Club March 11-12 in Boulder City, Nevada. 

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