Golf is a pretty good sport for stat geeks, and for the college game no one spits out the numbers faster than Golfstat.
In terms of pure statistics – Golfstat’s bread and butter – the Saint Martin Saints are the 15th-ranked men’s golf team in NCAA Division II.
The website (golfstat.com) bases its ranking on performances in the 2010 fall season, when the Saints owned a 188-18 head-to-head mark against the teams it faced in four tournaments.
The Saints were sixth among 17 teams at their own invitational; tied for fifth at Chico State; ninth at Western Washington; and third at UC San Diego.
Digging a little deeper on the site you could learn that the Saints’ Matt Epstein was No. 3 in the nation in par-4 scoring for the fall season with an average of 3.92 strokes. SMU’s Sheldon Prante was No. 25 in the same statistic at 4.04.
Saint Martin’s was ranked fourth among “others receiving votes” after the top 25 in another major poll, the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) rankings, in effect making them Divisoin II’s 29th-ranked team.
A little national recognition never hurts.
Saints coach Kevin Bishop added two talented players to the mix last week: Ben Fosnick of Lakes High School and Patrick Whealdon of Ilwaco High signed national letters of intent to play for the Saints starting next fall.
The stats on those guys are pretty good, too.
Fosnick, the son of Mike Fosnick, general manager and PGA pro at Oakbrook Golf and Country Club in Lakewood, was a four-time first-team all-SPSL player and academic all-leaguer. He was a top-5 finisher each of the past three years at the Class 3A state tournament.
“What I like about Ben’s game is he plays smart,” Bishop said. “He hits it plenty far enough, but that isn’t his thing. He plays the game well.”
Whealdon is the younger brother of Jack Whealdon, a Saints sophomore.
The younger Whealdon was a three-time all-Trico League player, and an all-academic team member for three years. His Ilwaco teams won Class 1A state championships in 2008 and 2010.
The athletic Whealdon, also a basketball player at Ilwaco, is left-handed, which Bishop likes.
“I like to attack a course from both sides,” he said.
Bishop is building a program at Saint Martin’s. The proof is in the numbers.
The team that came to town in September and won the Saint Martin’s Invitational by five strokes was no fluke: the Western Washington Vikings are No. 1 in Golfstat’s Division II rankings, based on a head-to-head record of 205-1 in the fall season.
Western’s only loss in four tournaments was in its own invite at Bellingham Country Club, where the Vikings finished tied for second (with Cal State Monterey Bay), a shot behind Chico State.
Besides the win at the Saint Martin’s invitational, the Vikings got more than even with Chico State by winning Chico’s InterWest Wildcat Classic by 10 strokes. (In that tournament, Saint Martin’s Epstein tied for individual medalist honors.)
Western also won the Grand Canyon University Invitational by 20 strokes at Estrella Mountain in Goodyear, Ariz.
The Vikings sit atop the Golfstat poll, barely above Chico State, which also has a 205-1 head-to-head mark, by virtue of a 71.88 adjusted scoring average, a fraction better than Chico’s 72.09.
Western is No. 3 in the GCAA rankings behind No. 1 North Alabama and No. 2 Lynn University of Florida. Chico State is fourth.
WWU sports information director, Paul Madison, said in terms of conference, district and regional titles, golf has been the most successful of any Western sport through the years.
(Digression for purely personal opinion: Anybody who’s been involved in Division II or NAIA sports for any length of time would be happy to agree that Madison, who started in the SID job while just a Western freshman in 1966-67, i.e., 44 years ago, is the best there is at what he does.)
Western’s golf success relative to other Viking sports is not just a case of a greater among lessers: for the 2009-10 academic year, Western’s athletic program was No. 6 in the all-sports rankings among the 310 Division II schools.
Western’s golf success this fall has earned it an invitation to the prestigious Hawaii-Hilo Invitational in February, where the field is made up of mostly Division I schools, including current No. 1 Oklahoma State.
Olympia freelance writer Bart Potter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org