By Emma Grimes / Athletic Communications Assistant
LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Since its inception in 2004, the Covenant golf program has built a team culture of excellence and recognizing Christ's preeminence.
The Scots have finished runner-up twice at conference tournaments, been to two national tournaments as a team, and have sent individuals to two more national tournaments. Covenant has qualified for three USA South tournaments since joining one of the top golf conferences in Division III.
Unlike other team-based sports, golf is very much an individual game. Despite the individuality of the game, the Covenant program maintains a desire to build culture as a team.
For junior Isaac Duncan, it is all about Christ and competition.
"The most important thing to a Covenant College golfer is that he tries his best to exhibit Christ's likeness and conduct himself in a way that reflects the biblical standards on which Covenant College is founded," said Duncan. "Our program values performance on the course, but it values most the conduct in which that performance is delivered. Our culture is oriented on a purpose larger than golf -- to be iron that sharpens each other both on and off the golf course."
Fellow junior Will DeMersseman echoed his teammate's sentiments.
"We are trying to build a culture where we all drive each other to practice and improve while developing Christ-centered friendships within our small roster," said DeMersseman. "Even during practice, we have the opportunity to discuss school, life, faith, etc., as we walk on the course or hit balls on the range. We grow together through the whole process."
The building of the culture is largely focused on discipleship. Players recall times of going to church together during tournament weekends and going away on retreats in order to focus their eyes on Christ. The program also goes through a book every year together as a team. Last year, they read A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin, and this year, they are going through Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
"Throughout every year, we engage in conversation about a book on our faith with Coach [head coach Tom Schreiner]," emphasized Duncan. "These conversations help us think critically about how we can be ambassadors of Christ, whether playing golf or not."
DeMersseman also cited the importance of discipleship to the culture, as well as the unique bond the golf team has.
"Our team dinners, sixsome golf rounds, and long car rides together give us the opportunity to enhance our culture through enhancing our relationships. I think the main differentiator is the amount of support that we receive from teammates. We all get along well and create an atmosphere that is different from other golf teams."
On top of these traditions, the team takes a trip to St. Simons Island, Ga., every year for the Coastal Georgia Winter Invitational, which has become a program highlight for many of the players including DeMersseman.
"A four-day, mid-school year golf trip with four of your best friends to a large house with a hot tub on an island in coastal Georgia is hard to beat," noted DeMersseman.
Duncan's favorite team tradition is the often-comical post-match talks with Schreiner.
"One of my favorite post-round activities is when the team asks Coach what the best and worst shots were," said Duncan. "Recounting the good shots is nice, but retelling the bad ones are always very funny."
Because of the tight-knit family atmosphere of the team, players are still very much a part of the program even after they graduate. Schreiner, who is the longest-tenured coach in program history as he enters his 10th season, believes that this component makes Covenant golf unique.
"I keep up with many of the past players, from their work to their golf to their families," continued Schreiner. "They certainly become a part of the extended family."
From past players to current, it is clear that being a Scot holds significant value in the lives of those who come through the golf program.
"I'm reminded more each day about the blessing it is to play at Covenant," shared Duncan. "This program has shaped me as a golfer and a man, and I'm very thankful to have been a part of it."
Playing for Christ, creating a strong bond with each other, and having fun: A Covenant golf tradition.
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