Men’s golf looks to elevate competition in 2021-2022

Huskies host two tournaments including MAC Championship.

Senior+Reece+Nilsen+hits+an+approach+shot+from+the+rough%2C+Aug.+28+at+Rich+Harvest+Farms+during+a+fall+qualifier.+Nilsen+returns+with+high+hopes+of+contributing+to+the+mens+program.

Zak Ahmed | Northern Star

Senior Reece Nilsen hits an approach shot from the rough, Aug. 28 at Rich Harvest Farms during a fall qualifier. Nilsen returns with high hopes of contributing to the men’s program.

Wes Sanderson, Editor-in-Chief

DeKALB— After a shortened 2020-2021 season due to COVID-19, the men’s golf team has one thing on its mind: elevating the program in competitive golf ranks. 

“Last season, it was a sense of belief. Belief that we could compete and belief that we belong at these tournaments,” said John Carlson, head men’s golf coach. “This year, it’s instilling the drive to lift our program to the next level.” 

A slow start in the shortened 2020 season ended with the Huskies claiming a solo-second finish at the MAC Championships at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne, IN. This year the Huskies hope to claim the MAC on home soil when they host the conference championship, April 29- May 1, 2022, at White Eagle Golf Club in Naperville. 

“Finishing second last season gives me confidence as we prepare to host the MACs this season, and our schedule prepares us to compete for another championship,” Carlson said.

 Turning the page to 2021-2022 season

This season the Huskies are scheduled to compete in 10 tournaments during the 2021-2022 season, including the inaugural Rich Harvest Intercollegiate, hosted at Rich Harvest Farms Oct. 2-4.

“Our schedule is going to give us the opportunity to gain experience on the national stage,” Carlson said. “We’ve got spots on the schedule that we’ve had success before like, at Xavier, and we’re returning to deeper fields like A&M that we should improve on seeing (the course) a second time.”

Gaining experience with tournament courses isn’t the only thing the Huskies look to build off. The team is returning four players who competed in at least one tournament in the 2021 season, along with adding reigning Big East individual champion Michael Cascino and the top junior golfer in Illinois, Ben Sluzas.

“This team is taking the next step in its maturity,” Carlson said. “The conversations we’re having are now about how to plot our ways around courses and turn 3-under pars into 6-under rounds.” 

This maturity is being recognized even from the new faces in the team room. 

“We’re hungry,” Cascino said. “We want to win, and we’ve got everything here to do that.” 

Dunsire to fill shoes left by Less

Last season the Huskies were led by graduate student Jordan Less, who claimed a tie of second place at the MAC Championships in April, but this year the team will be looking towards senior Tommy Dunsire, who assumes the captain role.

“Tommy is going to be our only captain to start the season,” Carlson said. “He’s ready for the task, and while he might be the only one currently, we certainly have a more competitive team room than last season, and there are lots of guys who are going to make an impact.”

Dunsire was the Huskies’ second best player behind Less, with a team stroke average of 75.60. This offseason, Dunsire advanced to U.S. Open Sectional qualifying, where he realized that his game can compete with the best. 

“I played with Erik VanRooyen and Angus Flannagan, and I learned a lot,” Dunsire said. “I know that my game is right there and that week gave me that belief I can compete with the best.” 

Outside of Dunsire, the team’s competitive roster will consist of returners such as junior Luc Warnock and sophomore Zach Place, who Carlson feels are going to be regulars in the lineup.

“Zach made his presence known when he opened up the MAC Championship with that opening round 70,” Carlson said. “He’s matured and gotten the experience to make a difference this season along with Luc, who has also started to take that next step as a golfer.”

The men’s team will start its season-long race toward the MAC Championship Sunday at the Marquette Intercollegiate at Erin Hills in Hartford, Wis.