Freshmen reinforce talent to successful golf team

Jesper Swedenborg, junior business major, practices his shot out of a sand trap during a Union golf practice. The players were practicing their short game by chipping and putting out of different situations they might be in. | Deanna Santangelo

By Josh Brown

Coming off a national tournament appearance in which it finished 23rd, the Union University men’s golf team is looking to build upon a successful 2009 season and aiming to shoot higher this year under Head Coach Andy Rushing, who is in his fourth season as the team’s coach.

The team started on the right track with a win in the Union University Fall Invitational, Sept. 17.

While the team only lost two seniors from last year’s roster — Mills Hamaguchi and Clay Mallard — Jake Carroll, senior nursing major, said it was a big tandem to lose.

“They provided a lot of unity to the team and were looked to for advice by the younger players, not to mention their ability as golfers,” Carroll said. “Guys like that are always going to be big losses, but they have established relationships with the freshmen and have a main concern for the betterment of the team.”

Union golf added four freshmen to this year’ s team: Steven Coffelt, undecided major; Chris Hawks, business administration major; Matthew McSwain, undecided major; and Charlie Pittman, biblical studies major.

Each provide depth to the team, but two freshmen in particular have already made an impression.

“Charlie and Steven have stuck out a lot,” Carroll said. “As freshmen they have already made the travel squad to the first Division I tournament of the year. They practice a lot and are also competitive during qualifying between their teammates.”

Because freshmen are the future of college sports, it is crucial for freshmen to gain confidence in their first season. Many times they come in with unrealistic expectations and set unreachable goals for themselves, only to realize they are trying to do too much.

“You want to do well, but you do not want to put a lot of pressure on yourself,” Coffelt said. “My goals coming in were to just play steady and get off to a good pace.”

Upperclassmen play a crucial role in setting the example for freshmen teammates, as well as alleviating some of that pressure. Carroll said the team often meets at least once a week for breakfast.

“The (upperclassmen) have brought us (freshmen) in well,” Coffelt said. “They are always looking out for us and wanting us to do well, and they have done an excellent job in helping us jump to the college level.”

While conference play and bigger tournaments do not start until the spring, the team is taking fall practices and tournaments seriously. Carroll said each player is constantly working on his game as a whole, but specifically on his short game, a point on which Coach Rushing often harps.

“Coach always says a short game puts players at an advantage on off days and provides leeway against opponents,” Carroll said. “Some days you are not going to hit the green in regulation, but a good short game can help save par.”

For the five seniors on the team, this may be the last year they play golf at a competitive level, so this season means even more to them.

Image courtesy of Cardinal & Cream|Cardinal & Cream
About Cardinal & Cream 1011 Articles
The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.


  1. if you’re going to put a picture of the player in the paper… the title and picture should correspond. This player is not a freshman…. the photographers and writers should do a better job corresponding to make sure they have pictures that can match the story… This player is hardly a contributing player in the top 5 on the golf team.

  2. ps. what does this title even mean? Freshman reinforce talent to successful golf team? I feel like the title should at least sum of the first part of the article… and all the opening talks about is losing seniors in the beginning. (the intro should have been the closing portion) and Charlie Pittman and Steven Coffelt should have been the only freshman mentioned… the others havent contributed much if you look at their stats on the golf teams homepage.

  3. Nice story considering the limited space U had to work with. Likewise, it’s nice to see the “minor” sports get some recognition. The team had a very good fall season winning 3 of 6 events. Hopefully they’ll peak at the Spring Conference Championship and qualify for Nationals again this season!

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