BOBBY JOHNSON | STAFF REPORTER
After a difficult first year in the Big East Conference, the Butler men’s golf team seems poised to contend for a much higher finish.
The team managed a seventh-place finish at the conference tournament in April. Now, the Bulldogs hope to establish themselves as a possible top-five team in the conference with four of their top five golfers returning from last year.
“I think if we keep improving, we can certainly get into the top three or four teams in the conference, and hopefully be competitive,” Coach Bill Mattingly said.
Senior Andrew Eiler and junior Brigham Stewart finished 20th and 21st respectively at the Big East tournament. The Bulldogs also return senior Logan Holt and sophomore Joey Arcuri, along with sophomore Connor Dudley.
Stewart said he believes a strong collective start will be the key to having long-term success this year.
“We started off slow last year,” Stewart said. “This year, we are hoping to turn that around and make a statement early. I think if we got a few scores under par in our first few tournaments, we will be a threat to a lot of teams.”
The Bulldogs will begin their season on Sept. 14 at the D.A. Weibring Invitational in Normal, Illinois before travelling to Cleveland, Ohio, for the Cleveland State Invitational on Sept. 29. The team will return home for the Butler Fall Invitational on Oct. 6.
Mattingly said the team will be focused on performing well in its home tournament.
“Really, the main focus will be our fall tournament,” Mattingly said. “That is always a big one for us.”
The spring will be the real focus for the men. They look forward to the conference tournament in April at the Callawassie Island Club in Okatie, South Carolina.
“The conference tournament is always our main goal, and we treat each tournament and practice as preparation for conference,” Eiler said. “We obviously want to play well in every tournament, but it is all preparation for conference.”
Finishing amongst the top teams of the conference will be a challenge. Defending champion St. John’s University and runner-up Marquette University each return return four of their top five golfers. For the Bulldogs competing with these top teams at conference will be all about hitting their stride at the right time.
“In golf, you get hot for one week and anything can happen,” Mattingly said. “So I think we just want to be ready and give it out best shot.”