GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The Calvin College women's golf team opens the 2017 season on Friday and looks to continue to improve off last season. Calvin will have a new look this season with three newcomers on the team. The Knights look to finish in one of the top four spots in the MIAA for the fourth time in seven years. Calvin finished just short last season, with a sixth-place finish in the league.
"I feel we have a good core of returners," said head coach Dr. Jerry Bergsma. "They come in with some experience and continue to improve their game. We also have some new faces, which is good to add some freshness to things. We are certainly optimistic to improve upon our performance from last year, but there is a lot to learn."
The Knights return four to the roster from last season. Calvin returns junior Nicole VanderYacht (Kentwood, Mich./South Christian), who tallied the second-lowest average on the team last year. Sophomore Jessica Zylstra (Grand Rapids, Mich./Northpointe Christian) returns with 13 rounds of golf under her belt from last year. Senior Gen Best (Brighton, Mich./Brighton) returns for 2017 lowering her score at each MIAA Jamboree in 2017. Junior Katy Hamilton (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Catholic Central) played in three tournaments for the Maroon and Gold last year.
The Knights added three new faces to the team. Linnea McDonough (Pentwater, Mich./Pentwater), Amanda Scholten (Wyoming, Mich./Calvin Christian) and McKenna Smith (Bridgman, Mich./Bridgeman) all look to help the Knights this season.
"I am excited for the challenge," said Bergsma. "Golf is not an easy game to begin with, it is a humbling game. Working with this group of ladies to not only improve their golf game, but to also deal with the challenges of this challenging game is something I look forward to. I think having some new faces in the crowd also brings some excitement and energy to the practices. Getting to see how they gel with their new teammates and how they contribute to our program is always exciting."
The Knights open their season on Sept. 1, for the two-day Carthage "Battle on the Border" in Bristol, Wisconsin. They will then compete at the Olivet Invite on Sept. 8-9 at the Medalist Golf Course in Bellevue, Michigan. Calvin will then renew the rivalry on Sept. 16 against Hope at the Ravines Golf Club in Saugatuck, Michigan.
"It's difficult to know how the MIAA will be this year," said Bergsma. "There is a lot of turnover in the MIAA. The defending champions have lost some of their lineup to graduating seniors, so it is difficult to know until we start competing. It has always been a top-heavy league; there are three, four, five teams that are also competing for those top four spots. The league is respected nationally, teams compete in national tournaments. Our league will be tough and I'm looking forward to where we find ourselves in that mix."
The first MIAA jamboree is scheduled for Sept. 21 at the Medalist Golf Course in Marshall, Michigan. Hosting the MIAA jamborees this year will be Olivet, Trine, Calvin and Adrian. The MIAA Fall Tournament will be at Bedford Valley Golf Course on Oct. 6-7 in Battle Creek, Michigan. Calvin will host the third jamboree on Sept. 27 at Thornapple Pointe.