WESTFIELD, Mass. – Westfield State University has joined the New England Collegiate Conference as an affiliate member in the sport of men's golf.
The Owls and fellow MASCAC members Worcester State, Salem State and Mass College of Liberal Arts all join the five existing NECC schools, Elms, College, Eastern Nazarene, Dean College and associate member Springfield College to form a nine-team league which will compete in the 2019 Conference Championship tournament October 4 and 5 at Wachussett Country Club in West Boylston.
The conference will begin their wait for NCAA postseason automatic-qualification in the fall of 2019 with sights set on attaining automatic-qualification status for the 2021-22 season, with the championship team earning a bid to play in the NCAA Division III championship meet.
"This is a great opportunity for our golf student-athletes," said Westfield State director of athletics Dick Lenfest. "While we maintain our primary affiliation with the MASCAC, our ability to join in with the NECC to form a nine-team league will give our student-athletes a path to qualify for the NCAA tournament, which we were not able to do with a four-team league. We have recently had a solid team capable of shooting scores in the low 70's, and this gives them a direct chance to advance to the national tournament, which is a primary goal of any athletic team."
Westfield State should be an immediate contender for the NECC title. The Owls won the fall 2018 MASCAC title in a one-day event at Blackstone National GC in Sutton, Mass. with a team total of 319, as sophomore Matteo Godek (Agawam, Mass..) shared the individual title with a score of 77 over the foggy and rain-soaked track. The Owls won three of the four tournaments they played in the fall.
Springfield College earned the 2018 NECC Men's Golf Championship with a combined two-day score of 615 (+39).
Wachussett Country Club will provide a good test to determine a champion, as the classic 1927 Donald Ross design features rolling hills, scenic views, and dramatic elevation changes as it plays 6,567 yards from the championship tees.
Westfield State has four tournaments on the spring schedule, as they are slated to compete at the RIC Invitational on April 5-6, and will host the Westfield State Spring Invitational at Tekoa Country Club on April 23.