Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications
By Bennett Conlin
College sports fans tend to focus their attention on two things: football and basketball.
The revenue-producing sports earn TV time and draw massive crowds. Websites, like ours, receive significantly higher engagement when they’re discussing football or men’s basketball compared to articles on Olympic sports or even women’s basketball.
While JMU fans appreciate women’s sports about as much as any fan base in the country, there’s still less interest in Olympic sports than there is about what’s happening on Saturday afternoons in the fall. That’s understandable, but it does stink.
Is JMU men’s soccer player Manuel Ferriol any worse of an athlete than JMU quarterback Ben DiNucci? Not at all, but he won’t grab nearly the attention as JMU’s quarterback. We play into this problem a bit, writing nearly an article a week about DiNucci’s play. Fans love it, and we aim to write articles that fans want to read.
On the flip side, we want to cover all things JMU athletics.
Let’s start taking a closer look at JMU’s various athletic programs, starting today with JMU men’s golf. While we doubt this team will grab major headlines in the local media any time soon, this team deserves some love.
With a recent win in the Autotrader Collegiate Classic, men’s golf head coach Jeff Forbes has led the Dukes to more tournament victories than any other coach in program history. That’s impressive, and he’s entering the conversation as one of JMU’s underrated Olympic sport coaches.
The Dukes haven’t made an NCAA Tournament appearance this century, but they have two wins through four tournaments. Ryan Cole got the Dukes close to making the tournament in his final seasons, but the Dukes couldn’t quite get over the hump. This year seems different.
JMU ranks 59th nationally according to Golfstat. Last year, 81 teams qualified for NCAA Regionals. The Dukes have a legitimate chance to make the tournament.
This season could be historic for JMU men’s golf.
Two wins in four events
JMU is off to a blistering start this season. The Dukes have finished at least fourth or better in all four events this season, and they own a pair of victories. This team is playing really, really well.
In its victory in the River Run Collegiate, JMU beat the field by an astounding 21 strokes. Three players, including Walker Cress who won the tournament, finished in the top-5 individually. JMU destroyed teams like Charlotte and Davidson.
In its most recent win, JMU beat Lipscomb by five strokes. The Dukes beat the third place team by 17 strokes. That’s dominant.
The Dukes aren’t just winning tournaments, they’re lapping much of the field. This team is playing at the highest level it has in decades, and much of the production is coming from players who will return next season. Cress, a senior, is one of the few key contributors who won’t return.
If you’re looking for a JMU Olympic sport to support, the men’s golf team is a solid bet given its recent success and talented young roster.
How to follow the men’s golf team
It’s hard to root intensely for a team you can’t watch, but following along with Golfstat live stats during each tournament is an easy way to keep tabs on the action.
You can also give the team’s Twitter a follow to see regular updates.
JMU men’s golf isn’t the easiest team to follow, but the Dukes are playing at an exceptionally high clip and deserve attention for their accomplishments. It’s time to join the bandwagon, folks.