WKU men’s golf program continues to drive on this season at MTSU

Graduate Christian Tooley playing a round at the Bowling Green Country Club on Aug. 31, 2020.

Nick Kieser

After the first competition of the fall on Sept. 13-15 in the Jim Rivers Intercollegiate at Louisiana Tech University, the WKU Men’s Golf program will compete at Middle Tennessee State University Oct. 12-13.

Last time out, the Hilltoppers finished at No. 10 of 12 with co-captains senior Caleb O’Toole and redshirt senior Tom Bevington leading the way tying for 25th place overall.

The respective upperclassmen have 220 strokes this fall, and heading into the Intercollegiate at The Grove, the Hilltoppers look to capitalize on their performance.

“We definitely came back with a very clear picture of what we needed to do to prepare for our next event. What I am looking forward to this week is to see our work pay off,” Head Coach Chan Metts said ahead of the second competition at MTSU.

There have been 24 days between competitions for the Hilltoppers, and graduate Christian Tooley along with his team have been preparing to get back on the course.

“Coach has really emphasized getting better on our par-five since that’s the statistic that stood out to us last time, so we’ve worked on our wedge game and scrambling,” Tooley said.

The graduate added that the program knows what their best golf looks like ahead of moving forward with the season.

Metts said two things the program can control moving forward are having the best short game in tournaments and having the best attitude in the tournament.

“If we do those two things, I feel really good about the direction we are heading in and what the next event will look like,” Metts said. “That’s how they are going to get their game the sharpest is to test it under those tournament conditions and play with those nerves and kind of see how their body and their game respond to those moments.”

Metts has been happy with his four freshmen on the team this season and how they have gelled with the other golfers on the team.

“To see those guys come in and just fit right in with the family is something you want to see with every class you bring in,” Metts said. “That’s what some great programs are founded in, and I have been happy with that.”

Entering into his third year at the helm of the program, Metts gives credit to the leadership coming out of Bevington, O’Toole and Tooley.

“I think that a team led from within is always going to be better than a team that is solely led by a coach,” Metts said.

Tooley is a Roundhill, Kentucky, native and played his first four seasons at Kentucky Wesleyan College. He shot the lowest scoring average of 75.2, the lowest on that program in 27 years.

Now one of the leaders, he returned to the Hill for his final year of eligibility helping hold the reins of this program. According to Tooley, it came as a surprise to be part of the leadership when coach Metts informed him of the decision.

“The biggest thing I have helped some of our freshmen with is just attitude and course management and staying positive,” Tooley said. “The freshmen are a bunch of really good kids and they work hard and they have gelled really well with our program and they are definitely going to help out this program in the future.”

Golf itself is a socially distanced sport, but the COVID-19 pandemic has still had an impact on the Hilltoppers this fall. Moving forward it looks different but the trainers have helped make practicing and playing possible for the program.

“We have an unbelievable staff that have done so much and had to work so much harder this semester to ensure that we can have a season,” Metts said. “They have done an unbelievable job of putting protocols and things into practice for us and nothing looks that much different but they have been keeping us safe all through the season.”

Sports Editor Nick Kieser can be reached at [email protected] edu. Follow Nick on Twitter at @KieserNick.