Gophers and Golfers: The Epic Story of the 2001 Undefeated George Mason Golf Team
By Grant Sabatier (October 20, 2001)
On July 31st of this summer when most off the student body was enjoying a relaxed summer break, the George Mason golf team was holding its tryouts for the 2001 team under head coach Dan Wilkie. Every year golfers of all abilities strive to have their "A" game as Tiger would call it, on the two days when we have golf tryouts.
After qualifying at the Jefferson District Course, the remaining 12 golfers assimilated themselves at the private Hidden Creek Country Club to play a long 5 hours and 18 holes that would determine their place, if any, on the golf team. Wilkie is always there, the bugs are always out, and the gophers are always friendly at Hidden Creek when we arrive there again to test our skills at this amazing course a month before school starts.
This year we had 4 returning players that made the team again and they were Ryan Engle, Nick Hurwit, Gordon Daisley, and Grant Sabatier. The four newcomers who joined the ranks of strong Mason golfers were William Henneberg, Andy Koelz, Joseph Maruo, and Dan McDonald. After assembling the squad, it was time to practice, practice, practice and then play some matches. Those of you who know about golf can testify that it requires not only some natural athletic ability (yes athletic, we do have to walk the course) but that it requires a lot of practice as well. We practice at both Hidden Creek where we often played 9 holes after school and at the Fair Oaks Driving Range where we would hit balls. Sometimes if we got lucky... we would even be able to play the par 3 course at Fair Oaks with a sand wedge and putter.
Here is a little explanation of how our matches are played. We usually play one other team (sometimes two), with six players to a team. After the round of 9 or 18 holes is complete, we take the four lowest scores and add them up. The team with the lowest total wins the match.
We played in our first match against Strausburg and defeated them by 20 strokes. With high confidence, we continued to race through our matches beating Clarke County and Rappahannock in the next two weeks. The high scorers throughout the season were the junior sensations Ryan Engle and Nick Hurwit in the 1 and 2 spots respectively. Both Engle and Hurwit often shot around 41 on the nine hole matches on a par 35 or 36 course. Others on the team averaged in the mid to high 40ís, often throughout the season.
We went on to be undefeated with a record of 6-0-1 and ended up placing 4th as a team at Districts and only sending one player, Ryan Engle, on to regionals.