The Chattanooga Mocs men’s golf team opens its 2014-15 season in 11 days. It is a campaign that has coach Mark Guhne raring to go.
“I’m really excited,” Guhne explained. “This is a very young group, but we are very talented. There is an unknown factor that makes me a little uneasy, but I believe in this team. We have one of the best tournaments in the country right off the bat.”
Three starters return in senior Liam Johnston (73.52), Wes Gosselin (74.39) and Ewan Scott (74.29). The trio is joined by returning letter winners Zac Stolz (75.09), Brooks Thomas (75.37) and Stuart Thomas (75.50). Add redshirts Kory Webb and Andrew Weathers to the equation making for a competitive mix for playing time entering the fast approaching season.
The Mocs open in a familiar place on September 5 at the Carpet Capital Collegiate Classic. The “Masters of Collegiate Golf” is a three-day, 54-hole affair at the Farm in nearby Rocky Face, Ga. It annually attracts one of the top fields in the country.
“The Carpet Capital is always a loaded field (mostly from the SEC and ACC),” Guhne stated. “Our win there in 2008 is one of the highlights of my career. It doesn’t get much better…except for a national championship.”
There are five total events in the fall. Chattanooga travels to the Tar Heel Intercollegiate (Sept. 12-14), Wolf Run Intercollegiate (Sept. 22-23), AutoTrader.com Collegiate (Oct. 13-14) and Bridgestone Golf Collegiate (Oct. 25-26). The Tar Heel (Chapel Hill, N.C.) and Wolf Run (Zionsville, Ind.) events are new to the schedule.
Five spring events lead into the postseason with a busy March featuring four stops. It begins at the Davidson College Invitational (Mar. 2-3). That’s followed by the Tiger Invitational (Mar. 9-10), Linger Longer Invitational (Mar. 21-22), Furman Intercollegiate (Mar. 27-29) and Old Waverly Collegiate (Apr. 6-7). Davidson’s tourney is the only one of the five the team has not played in the last two seasons.
“We are fortunate to have a pretty stable schedule,” Guhne continued. “We are playing great courses, and the strong competition gets us ready for April and May.”
The postseason just got interesting. While rival Georgia Southern moves out of Southern Conference play, Mercer and East Tennessee State join bringing the competitive level to a recent high for the league. The Bears ranked No. 30 last year, while the Bucs were just behind the Mocs at No. 58. UNCG was No. 55, just ahead of the Mocs at No. 56.
“You are talking about two quality programs in Mercer and ETSU,” Guhne said. “I hate to see Georgia Southern go, but the league just got a lot harder with these two added to the mix. Mercer was fantastic last season, and no one has won as many league titles as ETSU (17). Don’t forget about UNCG either. They’re going to be really good, and Western Carolina has an All-American (J.T. Poston) back.”
The league tourney is April 19-21. It returns to National Golf Club in Pinehurst, N.C. Chattanooga has won five of the last eight SoCon Championships. It finished a shot behind Georgia Southern last April.
NCAA Regionals are May 14-16 at six different sites around the country. The Mocs have played in eight consecutive regionals winning the 2012 NCAA Bowling Green Regional topping Texas A&M and UCLA down the stretch with Stephan Jaeger earning medalist honors.
Thirty teams and six individuals advance for those venues to the NCAA Championships. This year’s national championship is at The Concessions Club in Bradenton, Fla., May 29-June 3 in conjunction with the women (May 22-27). Chattanooga has qualified for three finals appearances with two as a team (2009, 2012) and one individual as Chris Robb earned All-America honorable mention status last year finishing tied for 15th.