Joe Duball's NH Golf: College seasons get startedBy JOE DUBALL
September 03. 2017 1:44AM
WE'VE HIT a unique time of year for some younger New Hampshire Golf Association members. College players are heading back to school to begin the fall portion of the 2017-2018 season.
The Southern New Hampshire University men's golf team is expected to reap the benefits after players refined their games through NHGA and leisure play during the summer break. Five of seven Granite Staters on SNHU's roster played in at least one NHGA event while many played in more.
"If you're going to play for this program, I definitely need them playing in events over the summer," SNHU coach Matt Arvanitis said. "The more competition they play in, the better experience they have towards our season. They make themselves tournament-tested while playing against some really good players through whatever state organization events they can get into."
Hooksett's Matt Paradis highlights the New Hampshire contingent Arvanitis is expecting to take the Penmen to new heights. Paradis followed his second consecutive State Am runner-up finish with a pair of under-par performances at the NHGA Stroke Play Championship and the New England Amateur Championship.
"You have to love fall golf," Paradis said. "I'm at the point where I've played golf for eight months straight so my game is in tip-top shape right now. I've been hitting it good and I'm feeling real good."
Rounding out SNHU's homegrown talent are Josh LaCasse (Bow), Tyler Cole (Bow), Tyler Silver (Lebanon), Garret Oliver (Manchester), Jake Cole (Hillsborough) and Austin Baker (Litchfield). Returning out-of-state players Sam Riemer and Etienne Bourgoin figure to play prominent roles for the Penmen as well, but Arvanitis is excited to see what LaCasse has to offer in his senior season.
"Josh brings plenty of experience to the table after being playing in our national championship run, Northeast-10 Conference title and several NCAA regionals," Arvanitis said. "We see his game in a good spot right now and I really think you'll see him be on top of roster and leaderboard not just this fall, but all year."
The Penmen are two years removed from that NCAA Championship trip and the second NE-10 title program history. The previous one was in 2002. SNHU got off on the right foot on Thursday in a 286-304 dual win over St. Anselm. Olivar and Drew Kane (Scarborough, Maine) paced the opening victory at Lake Sunapee Country Club, as the pair shared medalist honors at even-par 70.
The Penmen didn't appear to use their "A" lineup in the victory, which is a testament to just how deep the team is this season. Arvanitis has options in his 13th season as he has 14 players on the roster, which stood at 10 players a year ago and continues to increase each year.
"It's kind of fun to have all these talented players on the team," Arvanitis said. "There are probably about 10 guys that can slot into my top five. There are going to be some tough decisions, for sure. We'll have some event qualifiers, but we'll also go by the courses we play, too.
"It's great to see the program get to this point, honestly. We've built it slowly but sure and now we've evolved into something strong the last five years."
The team qualifiers began on Friday at Derryfield CC in Manchester, according to Paradis. Paradis said he fired a 66 to set himself in a good spot to earn one of SNHU's five team slots for next week's Franklin Pierce Invitational at Keene CC.
"We always kind of knew the players because Matt (Arvanitis) always had an idea of who the five best players are," Paradis said. "This is kind of new for us to really grind before the season gets going in order to just play in tournament. I was even nervous when it came to the first qualifier because we have so many guys here right now that can break par. It just makes everyone work a little harder at being at their best."
SNHU's fall slate runs through Oct. 31 before they resume the season in February. The Northeast-10 Championship will be Oct. 2-3 at Lake Sunapee CC.
- - - - -
THERE ARE other college storylines regarding the New Hampshire golf scene.
Franklin Pierce will rival SNHU's New Hampshire talent with four Granite Staters, including Spofford's Keeton Foster (NE-10 Second Team selection) and Londonderry's Taylor Simpson. Also joining the NE-10 ranks is Nashua's Tommy Ethier. The defending NHGA Junior champion joins Bentley for his freshman year this fall.
Speaking of freshmen, a trio of first-year collegiate players will be kicking off their NCAA Division I careers over the next two weeks. Nashua's Brendan Gillis, who starred in both the state and national amateur ranks over recent years, will begin his career at Wake Forest with the Rod Myers Invitational in Durham, N.C., on Sept. 16-17. NHGA Junior Championship runner-up Jack Brown kicks off his run at Siena that same weekend when the Saints travel to the Cornell Invitational in Ithaca, N.Y. James McKee, of Windham, will open his first year at Army on Sept. 6-7 in the Bush Cup against host Stanford.
- - - - -
AS THE summer draws to a close, so does our weekly look into the New Hampshire golf scene. Today's column is indeed the last of the season. Many thanks go out to the NHGA and the New Hampshire Women's Golf Association for your respective efforts this summer. Also, thank you to all those players that helped drive content from June until today.