Golf places ninth at Big East Tournament, look forward to next year


DePaul Athletics/Steve Woltmann

David Griggs swings out of a sand bunker.

The 2021-2022 DePaul golf team concluded its season on Wednesday, where the team finished 9th place out of 10 in the Big East Tournament.

This was not the outcome the Blue Demons had envisioned when they arrived in  Pine Mountain, Georgia. The team had two weeks of preparation and countless examinations of Callaway Gardens Golf Course, but things never fell into place on the green.

Head coach Marty Schiene said “we weren’t really not hitting on all cylinders” when it came down to performing their best on the course.

“Some of our key players were not playing that well and that gave me a little concern,” Schiene said.

The Blue Demons left campus three days prior to Monday’s start, which was something Schiene and his staff had never done to prepare for the Big East Championship in the past.

There was more time to take the attention away from golf because of the team’s early departure, meaning more motivational time to inspire the team that anything is possible in these tournaments.

“The night before the tournament we watched the movie ‘Miracle on Ice’ about the U.S. Olympic [men’s hockey] team who in 1980 won the gold,” Schiene said. “I mean that fired me up, I think it fired the guys up, tried to get some juices going and make them feel good.”

Having never played in Pine Mountain in the past, the Blue Demons had to adjust and prepare for more than just certain shots or angles

“There are different grasses in Georgia,” Schiene said. “The Bermuda grass is a little different, so we did spend a lot of time around the green, chipping out of that grass, putting in those greens trying to get a better feel.”

Junior Artemiy Yalovenko finished 17th and fifth-year senior Nik Gatmaytan finished tied for 22nd, both rounding out the top 25 for DePaul as the two highest performers.

The highlight of the tournament was on the final day, as Gatmaytan and senior Grant Boyson took the course one final time as members of the DePaul golf team and truly gave it their all one last time.

After shooting a comfortable 234 in the three rounds at Georgia, Boyson finished fourth on the team and 46th overall in his final performance.

Boyson reflected on what his time at DePaul meant as he pursues medical school next year.

“For me, the experience was everything,” Boyson said. “From practices, to traveling to tournaments, being with the guys there is really nothing like it. We are all best friends, even the coaches.”

For Gatmaytan, his performance was nearly perfect. In the first round of the tournament, he shot a 73, just one stroke over par. He followed up his first round shooting even par with a score 72 in the second round. Gatmaytan finished his third round with a 75 and a total score of 220, just four strokes over par for the whole tournament.

Gatmaytan said his strategy for a good performance comes in his preparation.

“When I get the chance I’ll go through the course on Google Earth, or sometimes we will have classroom sessions where, as a team, we look at the golf course and see if it is very narrow, or very long,” Gatmaytan said.

It is no coincidence that those two performed well and have the most experience on the team. Leading up to the Big East Championship, they gave words of advice to the rest of the group, letting them know that the moment wasn’t too big for any of them.

“The past [experience] helps other guys, because you can motivate them and kind of explain what to expect and help them play to the best of their abilities,” Boyson said.

Although the outcome was not ideal for the Blue Demons, Schiene talked about the fight this team had and how it reminded him of the team he coached in his first year at DePaul, which finished second in the Big East Tournament.

“These guys really care,” Schiene said. “They care about getting better, they care about working hard. They are always bringing new ideas on how we can improve.”

As the Blue Demons start to put this season behind, looking forward to next season the team will not look much different. The same combination of experience and new recruits will make the roster.

Trying to replace Boyson and Gatmaytan will be a challenge, but returning seven out the nine players from this season means the camaraderie amongst the team will pick up right where it left off.

“We will have three of our better players who will be back for their fourth year,” Schiene said. “So experience goes a long way in golf, and a lot of teams that do have success are a little more mature with some older guys.”