CMU men must offset loss of key player
Like a golfer who lost his most reliable club, the Colorado Mesa men’s golf team enters the spring half of the 2013-14 college golf season without its most experienced and decorated golfer.
Sean Robbins, a junior who was the Mavericks’ No. 2 player the past two years and earned second-team All-RMAC as a freshman and third-team All-RMAC as sophomore, decided not to return to the team.
That means the Mavericks must adjust, and they’ll need young golfers to produce if they’re to contend in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
One of the youngsters already made a statement in the fall. Freshman Colin Prater finished with the team’s best scoring average (70.75 strokes per round) and was ranked No. 2 in Colorado Mesa’s region after the fall season.
He’ll be the Mavericks’ No. 1 golfer when they begin the spring season today in Austin, Texas, playing in the two-day St. Edward’s Invitational. Sophomore Adam Griffith will be CMU’s No. 2 golfer, and freshman Trenton Schwehr will be No. 3. Still to be determined are Nos. 4 and 5.
CMU coach Paul Brown said sophomore Chris Aiken has struggled on the course recently, but he’s capable of being one of the starters.
“He’s been pretty solid in tournaments,” Brown said of Aiken’s past performances.
Brown added freshman Billy Ramsey played a little in the fall and could land in the top five.
Brown said he tried to talk Robbins out of leaving the team, but he understands why Robbins left, and he wishes him well.
Robbins said the sole reason for leaving is because “I felt like God is calling me to do something else,” although he doesn’t know exactly what that is yet. And he realizes, “Not everyone’s going to understand.”
Robbins added he loves golf, and, “It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.”
But he said the time demands of golf were causing him to be half-hearted in many other things that are important to him, such as relationships with friends and family and involvement in groups such as Young Life, a nondenominational Christian ministry.
“The conviction in my heart not to play (golf) was just so strong. ... It just felt right,” Robbins said.
The Mavericks lost a tremendous player, and Brown said the response of the young players will determine how good the team can be this spring.
“It’s going to take everyone to play a lot better, missing Sean,” Brown said.
He’s counting on Prater to pick up this spring where he left off in the fall.
“He had a terrific fall semester, and hopefully we can keep pushing him to get better and keep growing and improving,” Brown said.
Prater, who lost a playoff for medalist in one the Mavericks’ four fall tourneys and finished second, eighth and 13th in the other three, said his strong start can be attributed to eliminating mistakes in his game. Plus, he’s hitting the ball a little further than he did in high school, where he was a four-time state qualifier for Palmer High in Colorado Springs, and he’s hitting fairways more frequently and making a few more putts.
“I didn’t expect anything,” Prater said of his freshman season. “I just went out there and played golf, and whatever happens, happens.”
The Mavericks haven’t been able to practice outdoors often since the start of 2014, but recent conditions have been good, giving Mesa about a week-and-a-half to play local courses and tune up for today’s tournament.
Prater said, “It’s really hard to lose the captain of the team,” referring to Robbins, but he added, “A lot of the freshmen are stepping up and playing well.”
He said the Mavericks need to keep their scores from climbing into the 80s, and “getting consistent play from our 3-4-5 guys will be crucial to our success this spring.”
Brown said he’s optimistic and pleased with his team’s progress.
“They’ll get the experience, and they’ll get the maturity really quick,” Brown said. “If 2 through 5 can improve by two-three strokes per round, which they’re capable of doing, we’re going to be in the top three or four (in the RMAC).”