DJ WINTER; Guest Writer;

Golf is truly a sport of pure mental toughness and grit. Golfers are by themselves for 18 holes, and if they hit a bad shot, they  have to regroup quickly because it is all about the next shot.

This is what has made the men’s golf team here at Pacific Lutheran University special this season. They have been successful in years prior, but this year has been exceptional with the Lutes taking first place in four out of their first eight events.

“The philosophy hasn’t changed, but I believe our attitude and mindset has changed,” head coach Kris Swanson said.

Swanson also said that everyone has a different leadership role in their own way. Some are funny and keep the guys loose, others are silent leaders and some lead by example, which gives Swanson the belief that they will be a consistent team that performs well every weekend.

“Any week or tournament any one of them can be a medalist and have a large role in our success,” Swanson said.

When asked about his favorite memory from the season so far, Swanson said it was the Fall Classic at Emerald Valley, where they left no doubt of their skills as PLU won by 16 strokes.

“We had a really solid game plan that week. The guys stuck to it and prevailed with a 16 stroke victory.”

Junior Mitchell Baldridge, who won the PLU Invitational this year, agreed with Swanson that the team’s chemistry is the key factor in a lot of their success.

“The smaller group has definitely helped us get closer this year which has contributed to our team chemistry,” Baldridge explained.

Golf is a sport not usually featured in the spotlight, so many may wonder what it means to be an athlete on the golf team. They start out by practicing their putts on the putting green until they move to the chipping area. Shortly after this, they head to the range and hit a few bucket of balls and then if they have time, do a quick round of 9 holes. This is a year-round process that has earned the team a top-25 ranking in Division III.

“Exercise is becoming more and more important in today’s world of golf,” Baldridge said when asked about his off-season schedule.

In addition to working out, the golfers also play in amateur tournaments around the area in order to keep their swing crisp and pure. Scoring-wise, the Lutes are lead by the duo of Baldridge and senior Kyle Drugge.  Drugge is averaging a 75 while Baldridge is leading the way with an average score of 73 per round.

The men’s golf team will look to continue their success after winning the Northwest Conference Spring Classic as they head into in the NWC Tournament at the Tacoma Country Club April 22-23.

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