When the golf team was reinstituted last year after a two-year break, coach Robert Hinton made sure to set realistic goals for the fledgling program. While he hoped to field a competitive team he said being exposed to golf was a reward in itself for team members.
“My main passion is to give back, to help these kids out and to show them there are other avenues to take than just football or basketball,” said Coach Hinton, a golf veteran, at the time. “Growing up, those two sports were the only sports that I was around. Had I been exposed to golf at an early age, I probably would be better than I am now.”
Members of the current team, which completed it season in April, did not enjoy a great deal of success on the links. But they did learn about the sport and improved their games.
“This was a great season for me and my teammates,” said Denard Haney, a senior from Winston-Salem, NC. “We grew more as a unit and developed our game over the offseason and it paid off.”
Haney, who was team captain, also was named its Most Valuable Player.
The CIAA Men’s Golf Championship, held at Larkhaven Golf Course in Charlotte, NC, on April 14-15 was the last collegiate match for Haney as well as fellow seniors Henry Capers, Reginald Cooper and Stephen Gumbs. The Falcons placed eighth in the tournament – the third tournament of the season they finished eighth. They also had a fourth-place finish.
Haney said he had high expectations going into the match but added: “Despite the outcome I was greatly pleased with my team’s effort and performance.”
Overall, he is pleased with the season, Haney said. “We meshed together and leaned heavily to each other when it came to assistance with bettering our game,” he said.
The lone returning player for next season is sophomore Howard Walker. Coach Hinton, noting that the team initially did not have experienced golfers, said last year it would take time to build a winning team. He said he just wanted the team to compete passionately.
“I also know there are several business deals made on the golf course,” the coach said, “so whether these guys are going into corporate America or wherever they go, I want them to use this as a networking tool.”
For Haney, it was a learning experience. “I enjoyed my time as a member and as captain,” he said. “My coach played a great part in developing my game from where I started, although I still have a lot more work to do.”
He added: “I know that the team will continue to thrive forward. Throughout the year we have been heavily involved in recruiting up and down the East Coast to ensure that we continue our quest for excellence and bring in good solid and well-rounded players on and off the course.”
— Charles Gilchrist