For the players on Ashland University's men's golf team, the Motor City Invitational is the last chance to make a lasting impression for the next five months.
On Sunday and Monday (Oct. 14-15), the Eagle men will play at TPC Michigan in Dearborn. It will be the last fall tournament, and Ashland's last action overall until March 16-17 – the start of the spring championship campaign.
"We're extremely happy," said Ashland first-year head coach Dennis North of the fall to date. "We've made some strides. We've got a long way to go, but the guys have played in some inclement weather, as well.
"Overall, as a whole, everything is going extremely well."
In the first four tournaments of the fall, Ashland has placed fifth, third, tied for sixth and sixth. In eight rounds, the team as a whole has shot less than 300 five times, and is averaging 298.38.
Individually, the low Eagle this fall has been sophomore Ben Jones, who is averaging 72.25 per round, has fired a 68, and has finished fourth, tied for 14th, tied for fifth and tied for fourth in four outings.
"He's had a wonderful start to this campaign," North said. "We know how steady he is. Very seldom do you see a double bogey, a triple bogey. He's a really consistent player."
Senior Austin Kondratick has a round of 69 to his credit this season, and his average is at 73.75 going into the fall finale.
"Austin would be the first to tell you that he hasn't had that fall season that he'd want to have," said North. "But the great thing about Austin is, he's such a grinder, and his ball-striking may not be where he wants it to be, but you know, generally, he's going to put a 74, 75, 76 worst-case scenario."
"Patrick's been fantastic, as well," North said. "He's another guy who's been really consistent through this entire fall. We'd love to have that 78 average in that (fourth and fifth golfer) area down to that 76, and kind of put us in that 294 area."
The fall has been about getting ready for the spring – and making a run at a program first, a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship.
"We are very competitive," North said. "We are competitive with a lot of teams we weren't competitive with. On the flip side of that, we're not competitive with the teams who are winning these events. We find ourselves 12, 14 shots back.
"So we've come a long way, but we have a long way to go, as well."