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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Sluzas, Place lead NIU men’s golf into spring season

NIU Athletics
Graduate student golfer Zach Place watches his putt during an NIU men’s golf practice. Place led the Huskies in scoring average with 70.800 during the 2023 fall season. (Courtesy NIU Athletics)

DeKALB – The 2024 spring competition season is set for NIU men’s golf with their first event starting Monday at the Lake Las Vegas Invitational. The Huskies will face two top-three nationally ranked programs in Auburn University and Vanderbilt University. 

“It’s an honor to be invited to play at Auburn’s event and Vanderbilt’s event,” said NIU men’s golf head coach John Carlson.” “Both of them are in the top three in college golf this year.”

NIU will be competing in the Mason Rudolph Championship – hosted by Vanderbilt University – for the second year in a row after finishing in 12th place last spring. 

Carlson and the Huskies have their eyes set on repeating at the MAC Championship and logging their second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. 

“We have to follow up the success that we had within the conference last year and build a tradition of excellence,” Carlson said. “I think our ultimate goal is to be a nationally renowned college golf program that plays in the NCAA Finals year after year.”

Across five events in the fall the Huskies had a scoring average of 286.33. Their lowest round score was 274 in the first round of the Quail Valley Collegiate Invitational. NIU’s best placement was at the VCU Shootout, finishing tied for sixth place. 

Graduate student Zach Place was the Huskies number one golfer in the fall, leading in scoring average with 70.800. Place is in his last year of eligibility and is eyeing the NIU scoring average record. 

“I’ve done a lot over my college career, but I would love to get a victory,” Place said. “Also breaking NIU’s scoring average, I think both me and Ben (Sluzas) are both after it this year.” 

The record for single-season stroke average 71.857 achieved by alumni Tommy Dunsire in the 2022-2023 season. 

Junior Ben Sluzas is NIU’s second-best golfer, averaging 71.067 strokes a round in the fall. Sluzas’ best finish of the fall was at the VCU Shootout, tying for eighth place. Last spring Sluzas caught fire, securing back-to-back top-three finishes to close the year. 

Sluzas spent time this off-season working on his close game. 

“I’ve definitely been trying to get my putting into a better spot,” Sluzas said. “I’m trying to put a lot of time into that and get as good as possible in that category.” 

After logging a 72.400 stroke average, NIU’s third-best golfer is Junior Felix Krammer. Krammer’s lowest round score was 68, which propelled him into a tie for fourth place finish at the Badger Invitational – his best placement of the fall. 

Graduate student Josh Kirkham is the Huskies’ fourth-best golfer. In the fall, Kirkham had a stroke average of 72.800. His lowest round score was 67 at the Quail Valley Collegiate Invitational. At the Quail Valley Collegiate Kirkham cracked the top-20 for the first time, finishing in 18th place. 

A golfer to look out for is junior Patrick Bruminhent. Bruminhent saw action in two events with his best finish at the Badger Invitational Individual, placing tied for ninth. Bruminhent finished the fall with a 75.333 stroke average. 

“Patrick Bruminhent has made the biggest strides from the fall to the spring,” Carlson said. “He’s a more proficient driver of the ball now … he’s averaging two shots less putting each round.” 

The Huskies first event is a three-day event starting Monday in Henderson, Nevada at the Lake Las Vegas Invitational. Live scoring is available through GolfStat.

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