By: Dave Nastalski
Sunday, March 11 marked the first time in history that a PGA/GM school has held the Jones and Carolina’s Cup trophies within the same calendar year. On Thursday, ten elite North Carolina State University PGA/GM students trekked 175 miles to Myrtle Beach, S.C., with hopes of ousting the Carolina’s Cup competition on the newly renovated Hackler Course. After his practice round on Friday, senior Alex Kowalski warned that the new greens were firm, tricky, and unresponsive. “It’s gonna make for an interesting couple of days,” he said.
The competition is set up to take the lowest eight stroke-play scores of each team, each day. The scores are totaled, and added together for a final combined team score. Whichever school has the lowest team score for the two days becomes the Carolina’s Cup champion.
With temperatures in the 50s on Saturday, the North Carolina State squad finished with seven of their eight players in the 70s, shooting a combined team score of 619. Coastal Carolina trailed by just seven shots, with a team total of 626. Kowalski had high expectations for Sunday. “It’s only seven shots-that’s nothing in team play. We gotta stay strong tomorrow if we’re gonna win this thing,” he said.
The final round brought cool morning temperatures with an afternoon high of about 65 degrees. Though the weather posed no immediate obstacle, the field was in for a surprise with the course set-up. The Hackler was playing at just over 7000 yards, with pins tucked away in almost unreachable corners. “It was a whole different golf course out there today…if you were even on the [par] 3’s, you would have picked up at least 2 or 3 on the field,” said Mark Ingols, a sophomore from Coastal Carolina. North Carolina State senior Bryce Aronson also commented on the conditions after his round. “It was almost unfair…there wasn’t hardly anywhere you could hit it.”
Kowalski, and fellow senior, Josh Rackley, shot a pair of 76s and led the Wolfpack to a one-point win against Coastal Carolina. The final score was 1269-1270. Campbell University took third with a score of 1290, and Clemson, in fourth, with a score of 1291.
Kowalski was the runner-up medalist in the event, with a two-day combined score of 151. “Yeah, I would’ve liked to nab the individual…wish that putt had dropped on eighteen,” Kowalski said, with a grin. “Bottom line is…we rallied together, and came home with the cup.” He trailed Coastal Carolina’s Nick Keefer by just one shot.
But in the golf world, one shot means everything.
Team Members: Bryce Aronson*, Mark Bell, Nick Capra, Wes Conover*, Brian Holstein, Alex Kowalski, Dakota Mincey, Dave Nastalski, Josh Rackley, Rupe Taylor*
* – Member of the 2011 Jones Cup Championship Team