IRVING, Texas – The 2019 Southern Collegiate Athletic Championship belongs to the University of Dallas men's golf team. On April 23 in Blanco, Texas at Valaar Creek Golf Course, the Crusaders achieved a feat that had never been done in the school's history since joining the league in the 2011-12 academic year. More impressive was that it was a men's golf program that had never finished higher than fourth place (2018 season) in its history in the league.
Head Coach Garrett Smith arrived as the ninth head coach of the program in the spring of 2016. A four-year letterwinner at NCAA Division II Cameron University, Smith graduated in 2012 and was a member of the Lone Start Conference Championship Team. He participated twice at the Division II National Championships. Smith also played professionally at Adams Pro Golf Tour, web.com, and PGA Tour events.
His first visit to the SCAC Championship in Blanco, Texas, had current senior Thomas Schuberg as a freshman. Schuberg led the team to a 22nd finish individually thanks to a 75 on the second round, which improved from his 91 on the first day. The remaining three UD golfers rounded out the bottom of the standings and had two participants that had never played.
What seemed to be the norm of seeking out students to fill a roster quickly moved towards creating depth and competition over the next three full seasons for Smith. In 2016-17, the Crusaders had the same five golfers compete in every tournament. The pair of newcomers on the team were Erik Hamm and Jacob Wade. Hamm put together the best overall total to tie for 13th, while Schuberg also cracked the top-20. UD's top four scores pushed them to fifth out of six teams in the team rankings, which was the first time in the SCAC to not come in last.
The 2017-18 season was a year that saw the golf roster reach nine players – seven recruited by Smith – and put together a great year to showed flashes of great results. Robby Evans – a freshman at the time – set a low round record 65 and came back to win the Alamo City Classic which is hosted by Trinity University in October. The Crusaders also began producing record-breaking numbers as a team and individually in the program. Altogether the amount of records broken were eight. Wade was the most consistent of the group with five top-five finishes, including the SCAC Championship. Dallas improved to fourth overall in the team standings. Finally, six individuals played in at least seven tournaments, which showcased the depth Smith had built.
This past season Smith kept his roster around the same total at eight but leaned heavily on six returners to take the next step of consistently putting up numbers. First-Team All-SCAC and 2018-19 Team MVP Emilio Montalvo emerged as the top performer this year. He took second at the SCAC Championship and was on the all-tournament team the week prior at the Rhodes College Spring Classic, where he set the Low Two Rounds and Low Three Rounds records. Additionally, he earned SCAC Golfer of the Week twice and finished the year with a season record-setting 73.69 low average in 23 rounds.
Hamm posted a career-low scores for 54-hole tournaments in the final two outings this spring with a 218 at the Rhodes College Spring Classic and 217 at the SCAC Championship. The week prior featured his lowest round score of 70, and his emergence carried over a week later to help tie for second with Montalvo and earn his second SCAC All-Conference accolade of his career with first team.
Wade contributed a 71 in the first round of the tournament in Blanco and would notch his highest finish in a tournament in both parts of the 2018-19 campaign by matching sixth place with a personal three round tournament low 223.
Seth McNeill carded a 232 and Evans added a 233, as all five participants for the Crusaders shot under 80 in all three rounds. All five placed within the top-20 in the individual standings out of 34 competitors. They sat in first place in each round and held on the final day as top-25 ranked opponents No. 7 Southwestern University and No. 22 Texas Lutheran University charged back to make things come down to a couple birdies on the last hole by Hamm and Montalvo, who got the clincher.
Dallas finished the season with the highest NCAA Division III ranking in history at number 40. The program also broke the Team Low Average Record for the second straight season.
Smith should return all five golfers that left their mark in UD history with a first place finish. A confident foundation has been set, as the Crusaders put themselves in the conversation of competing with some of the best programs in the nation.