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Minnesota–Duluth Bulldogs men's golf

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The Bulldogs men’s golf team represented the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) in the sport of golf from 1947-1991. Overshadowed by the school’s hockey, football and basketball teams, constrained by parsimonious budgets, disadvantaged by a short spring season, and without athletic scholarships, the UMD golf program was, nonetheless, one of the most successful of the University’s intercollegiate athletic programs during its existence. Perennially a conference champion threat, the golf team was the one of the first UMD athletic programs to qualify for national championship play and gave the school its first two All-American First Team honorees. During the 45 years of the program, the Bulldogs finished first or second in conference 29 times. Thirteen teams qualified for the NAIA National Championship Tournament and seven were selected to play for the NCAA Division II title. The golf program had the distinction of representing the highest showing for a UMD team of any sport at a national event for 31 years and the highest individual finish for 25 years. Despite its achievements, the UMD golf program was eliminated for the 1991-92 school year; a casualty of athletic department budget cuts.

Contents

Early Years – Golf Program Beginnings

The UMD golf program began in the spring of 1947 with athletic director Lloyd Peterson as coach. At the time, the school was known as the Duluth State Teachers College (DSTC) and was affiliated with the Minnesota Teachers College Conference (MTCC). With the conclusion of World War II and the return of college-aged men from the armed services, DSTC administrators met in June 1946 to propose the creation of an expanded sports program for the school. To this end, they agreed to reestablish the shuttered men’s ice hockey program and institute men’s golf and tennis for the 1946-47 school year.

The inaugural Bulldogs golf team played only a brief schedule of meets in May 1947 against local competition such the Duluth Junior College and Superior State College (Superior Wisconsin). Not yet participating in competition with conference rivals, these meets were conducted in preparation for the MTCC “Loop” competition (as conference championships were referred to in the idiom of the time) held at the conclusion of the athletic season. The first conference team roster included James Cran, Jack Donaldson, Joe Dubla and Dale Moren with Gus Novotney as an alternate. The team finished its maiden season last among six teams at the conference meet with an average 18 hole score of 92.

Following the conclusion of the 1946-47 school year, the Minnesota state legislature approved a bill authorizing the transfer of the Duluth State Teachers College to the University of Minnesota system with the school to be known as the University of Minnesota, Duluth Branch or UMD. The golf team also experienced change with Ward Wells becoming its coach. With an expanded schedule of meets against conference rivals as well as local colleges, the UMD golf team entered the MTCC Loop more prepared to challenge for the title than in 1947. Improving on the previous year, the team finished third at the MTCC golf championship and Jerry Chessen shot a 74 for 18 holes and finished one stroke out of a playoff for individual medalist honors.

Move to the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

In March 1949 and just prior to the start of the spring golf season, UMD left the Minnesota Teachers College Conference and joined the larger Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC). Prior to UMD joining, MIAC member schools were private institutions and for the most part located in-and-around the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis and Saint Paul and other areas south. This made an odd fit for the state-funded and northern-based UMD. It also put the nascent UMD golf program at a distinct disadvantage to the other MIAC member schools as springtime weather comes much earlier to the southern portions of Minnesota. Consequently, UMD often started preparation for the golf season weeks later than its conference rivals. In fact, weather would become a constant hindrance to the UMD golf program. The Bulldogs would suffer through several instances where the competitive golf schedule was reduced or cancelled in its entirety with the season limited to the conference championship and the NAIA District 13 tournament. This disadvantage became more acute at the national level where UMD competed against teams from the south and west whose players could play year-round.

New to the MIAC but unbeaten in non-conference competition against the likes of Michigan Tech, Bemidji State and North Dakota State, the UMD golf team confidently entered the 1949 MIAC championship having never competed against a conference team. The Bulldogs finished a disappointing 6th place in its first MIAC championship. It would be the last time UMD golfers finished outside the top three in MIAC tournament play over the next 16 years.

Dominating the MIAC

For the 1950 season, the Bulldog golfers got their third coach in four years: Lew Rickert. Rickert would coach the team for the next 25 years. Walt Bida became UMD’s first MIAC medalist shooting 155 over two rounds at the Hiawatha Golf Club in Minneapolis. UMD took the top three spots with Bill Strang and future PGA professional Rick Liljedahl coming in second and third-place respectively. However, the other two members of the team lagged far behind and the golf team finished third overall for the conference championship.

In 1951, led by Bida and two-time Minnesota State High School champion Bob Braff, UMD won the first of eight MIAC team titles over a 13-year span. Bida recorded a second-place finish in the season-ending conference event and Braff third. The golf title was first conference championship won by a UMD athletic program among the ten different sports championships conducted by the MIAC. The 1952 squad began the season with its first competition outside its northern base with a Midwest tour against the University of Iowa, Xavier (Ohio), and the University of Kentucky going 2-1. Favored to repeat as conference champion, the team's number one player Bob Braff came down with the flu on the eve of the MIAC championship and could not play. Braff's absence proved crucial as his replacement Bob Alexander averaged 95 over two rounds (while the rest of the team averaged 81) and the Bulldogs finished third, 12 strokes behind champion University of Saint Thomas.

Men’s golf was first recognized by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) as an intercollegiate sport in 1952. As a member institution of the NAIA, UMD qualified its golf team for the second annual NAIA national meet in 1953 by winning the MIAC team title. In the early years of NAIA golf, very few college programs participated in the national tournament. The 1953 NAIA national tournament in Abilene Texas was composed of just seven teams and 41 golfers – mostly from schools in the south. Something of a curiosity having traveled so far to participate, the local press reported on the arrival of the UMD team and contrasted the 95 degree weather in Texas with the 40 degree temperatures reported in Duluth. After a strong start with UMD’s Richard Kohlbry in fourth place at the 36 hole halfway point, UMD managed a third-place team finish in the tournament with Bob Korsch, John Patrick and Kohlbry finishing individually 11th, 13th and 14th respectively. It would be the highest team finish in a national tournament for any UMD athletic program until equaled by the Bulldog golf team in 1962 and not bettered until 1984 when the UMD men’s hockey team finished second at the NCAA Division I tournament.

From 1953-1956, John Patrick would lead the UMD golf team to three MIAC team titles and one runner-up finish. Individually, he tied for low score at the 1954 MIAC championship (losing medalist honors in a playoff), another runner-up finish in 1955 and third place in 1956. The 1954 team also featured Leo Spooner who finished third at the MIAC championship that year and would become one of the most successful amateur golfers from Minnesota and be inducted into the Minnesota Golf Hall of Fame.

By virtue of claiming the 1955 MIAC team title, the Bulldogs were eligible for participation at the NAIA national tournament. Again held in Abeline Texas, the tournament was still at that time a mostly southern dominated contest with five of the participating eight teams from Texas. The UMD team did not improve on its 1953 finish and ended in sixth place. Individually, only John Patrick finished in the top 25 with a tie for 22nd.

Already by 1956, the UMD golf program was the most successful of all the school’s athletic programs. Only the UMD hockey program could be considered as successful as golf in the MIAC title count but less so on the national stage. In a review of UMD’s sports programs since joining the MIAC in 1949, UMD hockey goalie and sports editor of the student newspaper “The UMD Statesman” (and later UMD hockey coach and Athletic Director) Ralph Romano reminded his readers of the lack of titles coming from the major sports programs and lauded the golf, skiing and cross-country teams for its championship wins.

The 1956 golf team again won the MIAC title over second-place finisher Gustavus Adolphus College by six strokes with Duane Branscomb and John Patrick taking second and third respectively. UMD, however, did not play in the NAIA national tournament that year. Both the Duluth News Tribune and Duluth Herald newspapers and the UMD Statesman newspaper do not record the reason for not participating but later NAIA tournaments passed up by UMD were due to insufficient funds available for travel and lodging.

Following two second place conference finishes in 1957 and 1958 and a third in 1959, the 1960-1964 UMD golf teams were probably the most dominate of the Lew Rickert era. Anchored by two former Duluth Denfeld high school graduates and future UMD Athletic Hall of Fame inductees Tom Maas and Ron Johnson, the teams during this period won four straight MIAC team titles and all but one of the meets in which it competed. After taking home the 1960 MIAC crown – its first in four years – with Maas tied for low individual (losing medalist honors in a playoff), the team participated at the 1960 NAIA national championships held that year in Bemidji Minnesota. By 1960, the NAIA national golf tournament had grown considerably since UMD’s last appearance five years earlier with 18 teams and 140 individuals competing for what was now a truly national title. In sixth place after the first round, the team performed poorly in subsequent rounds and finished a disappointing 12th.

In taking the MIAC team title in 1961, balance was the key to UMD’s victory. While no UMD golfer placed in the top three, Jim “Cub” Olson, Ron Johnson and Tom Maas all finished in the top ten with Rolle Hoch just missing out of that group. Unfortunately, while the team earned the right to play in the NAIA national tournament, the athletic department was unable to allocate funds to participate.

UMD won the MIAC team title again in 1962 with an even more balanced performance than in 1961 with all five Bulldog golfers finishing in the top eight. Despite winning the MIAC title, UMD had participated in a limited schedule of practices and meets because of poor spring weather so expectations going into the NAIA national tournament taking place in Davenport, Iowa – against many teams who played year-round – were low. However, the team finished third out of 24 teams entered – joining the 1953 golf team as having the best national showing in the history of the UMD golf program. Under NAIA tournament rules, teams could enter five players of which the low four counted toward the team total. While first-place Western Illinois University, runner-up Texas Wesleyan, and fourth-place Whitman College all entered five-man teams, UMD played with only four golfers and did not have the advantage of being able to drop its high score. Individually, against a field of 130 participants, Maas fired a four over par 292 over 72 holes to finish second to future PGA tour winner Steve Spray’s 290 of Eastern New Mexico University; the best individual finish in golf program history and the highest showing for any UMD sport until surpassed in 1987 by national wrestling champion Mike Hirschey. Ron Johnson – tied for fourth after regulation play – sank a 50-yard wedge shot for eagle three on the first playoff hole to take fourth place outright. Both Maas and Johnson were awarded NAIA All-American First Team honors for their performances – UMD’s first All-American First Team honorees in any sport.

With Tom Maas and Ron Johnson returning as seniors in 1963, expectations were high that UMD could repeat its 1962 performance. However, at a meet against conference rival Saint John’s University on the eve of the MIAC tournament, Maas suffered a corneal scratch when a piece of dirt deflected off of his club and into his eye while executing a shot. Unable to compete the next day at the MIAC tournament, 6th man Rollie Hoch had to make a quick drive down to Saint Paul to substitute for Maas. A third-place effort by Freshman Jim Sauntry along with solid play by the rest of the team allowed the Bulldogs to retain the MIAC team title by just two strokes over Macalester College. It was UMD’s fourth team title in a row and eighth overall in 15 years of MIAC play. Unfortunately, finances again prevented the team from participating at the NAIA nationals.

MIAC Format Changes Penalize UMD

The year 1964 brought the introduction of a unique scoring system to determine the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic golf champion. Prior to the change, conference members scheduled their own meets on an individual basis; the outcomes of which did not count toward the conference championship. Typically, the Bulldogs would play a regular season schedule of meets with non-conference teams in addition to some (but not all) conference foes. The only meet officially set up by the conference was the season ending MIAC tournament which alone determined the conference champion. With the change, however, MIAC officials took over the scheduling of all meets between conference members. Every conference member would play each other and each meet counted as a win or loss with points assigned to each individual match to determine the victor of the meet. The MIAC tournament was reduced to just another meet albeit featuring every team in the conference and considerably more points up for grabs. The conference championship was awarded to the team which accumulated the most points from both the regular season meets and the season-ending conference meet.

The practical effect of the new scoring system was to penalize northern-based UMD because of late winter weather not seen in the more accommodating southern parts of the state (and where every other member of the conference was located). Under the old scheduling system, UMD was able to pick opponents without fear of early season losses costing it a chance at the title. However, with every meet now counting toward the championship, the UMD golf team was at a distinct disadvantage to other conference teams who often had weeks of practice prior to the beginning of the season. The impact on UMD was seen immediately; the golf team went into its first triangular meet of the 1964 season against Augsburg College and Concordia University without having a practice much less a finalized team and a second triangular against Macalester College and Saint Mary's University with only 27 holes of tryouts. All of the Bulldog's losses for the season occurred during these first two triangular meets and ultimately cost UMD the conference title for 1964.

After the graduation of Maas and Johnson in 1963, the Bulldog golf team’s fortunes rested on the shoulders of Dave Hicks. Better known as a member of the U.S. Olympic ski jump team in 1964 and the U.S. National ski jump champion in 1965, Hicks proved to be a skilled golfer as well, becoming the MIAC tournament individual medalist in both 1966 and 1967. Despite the play of Hicks and solid performances by Jim Sauntry and Mark A. Carlson, UMD was unable to overcome the MIAC format handicap as well as a talented and deep team from Macalester College, finishing second in conference three times from 1964 to 1967. Hicks, however, individually qualified for the NAIA national tournament for both 1966 and 1967 finishing 25th and 21st respectively.

A Long Interregnum

An 11-year stretch of mostly unremarkable UMD golf results began with the departure of four letterman from the 1967 conference runner-up team. With one lone returnee, the 1968 squad finished 7th in the conference – the worse conference showing in the history of the golf program – and did not qualify for the NAIA District 13 Tournament. In 1969, MIAC officials eliminated the regular season point format instituted in 1964 and returned the season-ending MIAC tournament as the exclusive contest to determine the conference champion. The change, however, did not impact UMD much that year as the golf team marginally improved to 5th in the conference. However, beginning in 1970, a freshman named Lyn Ellingson provided lift for what would otherwise be several years of mediocre teams. Recruited by UMD for hockey, Ellingson led the golf team in scoring for four straight years in conference and district play. He was the MIAC individual medalist in 1971 and runner-up in both 1972 and 1973. The play of Ellingson allowed the team to finish 2nd at both the MIAC conference and the NAIA District 13 tournament in 1971. But the bench behind Ellingson was thin and UMD could only muster a 6th and 4th-place finish respectively at the MIAC championship in 1972 and 1973 and far down the pack at the NAIA District 13 tournaments.

Nineteen seventy-four marked the end of Lew Rickert’s long tenure as golf coach with his retirement. While his teams brought home eight MIAC titles, seven NAIA national tournament berths and two third-place finishes at the NAIA, the squad in his final year could do no better than fifth in conference and 13th at the district tournament.

Dave Hopkins was appointed golf coach for the 1975 season. His team responded by placing an unexpected second in the MIAC conference tournament for the first year coach. Interviewed by the Duluth News Tribune, an exuberant coach Hopkins said that the MIAC result was “the best finish for UMD in 15 years”. This, of course, was incorrect as UMD had placed 1st four times and 2nd five times in the conference championship in the prior 15 years but accurately reflected the perception that the teams of late had been lackluster.

Rejoining the Northern Intercollegiate Conference

The 1976 spring season marked the last year that UMD golfers would play in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. After a 28-year absence, University administrators decided to rejoin the Minnesota Teachers College Conference – renamed the Northern Intercollegiate Conference (NIC) – for the 1976-77 school year. Despite having joined the MIAC 15 years after its inception, the UMD golf team had won the second most MIAC titles (8) behind Macalester (11) when it left the conference. As of 2015 and 39 years after leaving the MIAC, only four of the current ten member schools with golf programs have more MIAC championship titles than UMD.

The move to the NIC had many implications for the UMD golf program. Conference play would now be during the fall season instead of spring. With fall having better weather in the Duluth area and coming off of summer play, UMD golfers would be better positioned to compete against rival schools. The move also meant that UMD would be playing a split season: conference golf in the fall and national tournament qualifying golf in the spring. With the University on a quarterly schedule and students matriculating or graduating at different times of the year, the golf team roster was often impacted by team members either beginning or leaving school between the fall and spring seasons.

Reemergence

The fall of 1978 saw big changes for the UMD golf program. Behind the scenes, George Fisher took over as coach of the team after four years under Dave Hopkins. More importantly, two players were added to the team that would propel the UMD golf program to success not seen since the early 1960s. The first was Lee Kolquist, a native Duluthian and a sophomore transfer from the University of Wisconsin Superior. The other was freshman Tom Waitrovich from Appleton Wisconsin. Both would attain All-American honors and lead the UMD golf program back onto the national scene.

Since moving to the NIC in 1976, the Bulldog golf team had not enjoyed much success in conference play placing 4th at the conference championship in its first year and 3rd in 1977. However, with the move to the NIC, the UMD golf program under coach Hopkins undertook a strategic shift to compete in tournaments that would impact its visibility toward gaining NCAA Division II invitations. UMD had dual affiliation with the NAIA and NCAA since 1955 but the golf program had not participated in any NCAA-sponsored tournaments. However, unlike the NAIA national tournament whose participants were determined (at that time) by winning NAIA district tournaments (and where one bad round could end a team’s chances of moving on to the national tournament); the NCAA Division II national tournament field was determined by a selection committee. Criteria for selection were tournament finishes relative to schools of the same level and the caliber of tournaments the team played. The NCAA also had the advantage of paying for travel and lodging for national tournament participants whereas the NAIA did not. For a budget-strapped team like UMD, this made for a more attractive alternative for post-conference play. Since the beginning of the golf program, the UMD golf team had primarily participated in meets against regional teams and conference foes in preparation for the conference championship and the NAIA District 13 tournament. The Bulldogs now started to compete in large multiple-team tournaments throughout the Midwest against schools outside its division and conference. This strategy yielded dividends in May 1978 when Richard Kirby and Larry Opatz of UMD were individually selected to play in the NCAA Division II tournament. Both golfers finished well back with Kirby placing 87th and Opatz 98th but it was just the beginning of a long streak of national appearances for UMD.

UMD’s NIC fortunes changed with Lee Kolquist winning medalist honors at the 1978 conference championship boosting the team to a second-place finish. While finishing only 5th at the NAIA district 13 tournament, the team’s performance at the University of Minnesota Invitational and its win at Northern State Invitational earned them an invite to the 1979 NCAA Division II tournament, the first of seven consecutive national appearances. While finishing a disappointing 19th as a team, Kolquist was named NCAA Division II All-American Honorable Mention.

For the 1979-80 golf season, UMD had one of its finest results in its history when the team captured both the NIC golf title and NAIA District 13 crown with UMD’s Rich Kirby and Lee Kolquist sharing low score at the districts (Kirby taking medalist honors in a playoff.) Having been selected for the NCAA Division II tournament and winning its way to the NAIA tournament, UMD for the only time in its history played both national tournaments. At the Division II tournament, the golf team improved over its prior year finish and took 11th place. A week later, it placed 14th at the NAIA. Individually, Kolquist finished 11th at the NAIA and was awarded All-American First Team honors.

UMD followed on that season with an even more spectacular 1980-81 campaign. While finishing second at the conference championship, the Bulldogs again took the NAIA District 13 title qualifying the team for the NAIA nationals. NIC rules, however, had changed to prevent a team from playing in more than one national event. UMD accepted an invitation to the NCAA Division II national tournament instead of taking the NAIA spot. The team placed fifth for the tournament, its highest national showing since the 1962’s third-place finish and senior Lee Kolquist was ninth in individual standings earning him a spot on the NCAA Division II All-American Second team.

With the graduation of Lee Kolquist, leadership of the 1981-82 squad fell on senior Tom Waitrovich. Waitrovich had performed solidly in his first three years on the team including a runner-up finish at the 1980 NIC golf championship but was nearly always overshadowed by the play of Kolquist. He responded by winning the NIC individual title while the team came in second. The Bulldogs then claimed their third straight NAIA District 13 team title. The victory earned UMD an automatic bid to the NAIA national tournament but an NCAA Division II at-large invitation was accepted instead. Waitrovich finished 12th individually at the NCAA tournament and received All-American second team honors. The rest of the team, however, finished down the pack and the Bulldogs placed 10th among 11 teams.

The 1982-83 team continued UMD’s winning ways. Led by sophomores Reed Kolquist and John Spreiter, the Bulldogs captured the NIC title outdistancing second place Winona State by a conference record of 47 strokes. Reed Kolquist was the NIC individual medalist. The team also won for the fourth straight year the NAIA District 13 title (by 25 strokes) with Spreiter, Kolquist and Jerry Kirby finishing in the top three positions respectively. Earning a trip to the NAIA national tournament, UMD again chose to instead accept an NCAA Division II spot. Because of their dominant play, the team had expectations of a high finish at nationals but placed a disappointing 14th. However, both Kolquist and Spreiter were selected to the NCAA Division II Honorable Mention team.

With only two seniors graduating from the prior year’s team, UMD was in good position to continue its winning ways for the 1983-84 season. In five meets leading up the NIC Conference championship, the Bulldogs finished ahead of 39 division teams and behind only two. However, UMD was upset by Bemidji State to finished second for the NIC conference title. In March 1984, coach George Fisher resigned from UMD to become the head men’s basketball coach at Cal Poly Pamona and James “Butch” Kuronen took over the helm of the golf team. Now fully committed to a NCAA Division II pathway, the team elected to not participate at the NAIA District 13 tournament that spring and would not return for another three years. In its sixth straight NCAA Division II appearance, UMD was looking to break-through to a top three finish. But in a repeat of the year before, the Bulldogs again finished in 14th place and Reed Kolquist and John Spreiter were named to their second consecutive NCAA Division II Honorable Mention team.

The 1984-85 team entered the season as a co-favorite with Bemidji State to take the NIC title. The championship held at UMD’s home course Northland Country Club saw the Bulldogs take back the team title while John Spreiter took medalist honors for the tournament and teammate Scott Rauvola finished 2nd. Going into the spring portion of the season saw a strong UMD team get stronger with the addition of Kyle Anderson, a transfer from Division I North Texas State University and former two-time Minnesota Class AA high school state champion. Again eschewing the NAIA District 13 tournament, the team won its first tournament coming out of the winter break but uncharacteristically struggled through the remainder of its spring schedule playing just well enough to earn its 7th straight NCAA Division II berth. Competing against the likes of future U.S. Open winner Lee Janzen, UMD finished in 11th place with John Spreiter earning All-American Second Team honors and Kyle Anderson All-American Honorable Mention.

Despite losing Reed Kolquist and John Spreiter to graduation and with only one senior, the 1985-1986 UMD team was still potent. After finishing well in several tournaments, UMD won its second straight NIC title. Kyle Anderson took home medalist honors and teammates Scott Rauvola and Larry Pajari finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. However, UMD’s excellent fall golf did not carry over to the spring season as the Bulldogs were never able to finish well enough to garner an eighth consecutive NCAA invite. However, Kyle Anderson earned an individual invite to the national tournament finishing in a tie for 26th which was good enough to earn him All-American Third Team honors.

End of the Program

After nine straight years of qualifying the team or individuals for national tournament play, it was probably inevitable that UMD would have a period of falloff. Not that the 1986-87 and 1987-88 seasons were poor: The Bulldogs would finish second in conference in each of the two years and Paul Paoletti took medalist honors at the NIC in 1987. Returning to NAIA play for the first time in four years, the team finished second at the District 13 tournament in 1987. However, the Bulldogs did not earn a place at either the NCAA or NAIA national tournaments so anything less was a disappointment.

The Bulldogs returned to form for the 1988-89 campaign. Although the team finished second at the NIC, senior Joe Riekena closed his collegiate career by taking home medalist honors at the conference tournament and becoming the 12th (and final) Bulldog to win an individual conference title. At the NAIA District 13 tournament, UMD captured the title – the first in six years – and earned a place at the NAIA national tournament held in Bay City Michigan. Having no player with national tournament exposure, the inexperience of the team showed with the Bulldogs placing 26th at the halfway point and missing the cut with only the top 17 teams advancing to the final two rounds.

The 1989-90 season saw the Bulldogs in a reprise of the prior year. A second-place finish at the conference championship would be the fourth in a row for the Bulldogs. However, the team would capture its 6th NAIA District 13 championship and earn its 20th national tournament berth (including six NAIA tournaments for which it qualified but did not appear). Again, the Bulldogs missed the team cut but freshman Greg Tuttle – a former Minnesota Class A High School golf champion – individually qualified for the final two rounds and finished 16th which earned him NAIA All-American Honorable Mention. Also, Paul Shromoff was named NAIA Scholar-Athlete in golf.

The 1990-91 season would be the last for the UMD Bulldogs golf team. A young squad with only three returning players, two being sophomores, the team played inconsistently and could never string together consecutive competitive rounds. This was evident at the NIC conference championship at which the team finished in third place. Having learned the day before that the golf program would be cut for the 1991-92 school year, the Bulldogs entered the NAIA District 13 qualifier determined to finish up the program as champions. However, according to freshman Mike McDonald, the team was “trying too hard instead of just letting it a happen” and finished third. Coach Butch Kuronen laid blame for the team’s play on the news of the program being eliminated.

Confronted with a $130,000 revenue reduction for the 1991-92 school year, the UMD athletic department dropped both men’s and women’s golf (along with cross country skiing) from its 18-sport program. According to Athletic Director Bruce McLeod, the program was too expensive given the number of participants. Despite being one of the University’s oldest and most successful athletic programs, men’s golf was always low on the list of UMD athletic priorities with a budget to match.

At the time of its elimination, the men’s golf team had earned more national tournament appearances than UMD hockey, football and basketball programs combined. After finishing in 5th place at the 1981 NCAA Division II championship, coach George Fisher remarked that: "A team that has to play in Northern Minnesota and a team that plays without athletic scholarships and still finishes only eight shots out of second place - well, that is just a great accomplishment."

UMD Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees

  • Lee Kolquist - dual sport with baseball (1993)
  • Ron Johnson - dual sport with hockey (2009)
  • George Fisher (2012)
  • Tom Maas (2013)
  • Dave Hicks - dual sport with ski jumping (2016)
  • All-American Honorees

  • Tom Maas - NAIA All American First Team (1962)
  • Ron Johnson - NAIA All American First Team (1962)
  • Lee Kolquist - NCAA Division II All American Honorable Mention (1979)
  • Lee Kolquist - NAIA All American First Team (1980)
  • Lee Kolquist - NCAA Division II All American Second Team (1981)
  • Tom Waitrovich - NCAA Division II All American Second Team (1982)
  • Reed Kolquist - NCAA Division II All American Honorable Mention (1983)
  • John Spreiter - NCAA Division II All American Honorable Mention (1983)
  • Reed Kolquist - NCAA Division II All American Honorable Mention (1984)
  • John Spreiter - NCAA Division II All American Honorable Mention (1984)
  • John Spreiter - NCAA Division II All American Second Team (1985)
  • Kyle Anderson - NCAA Division II All American Honorable Mention (1985)
  • Kyle Anderson - NCAA Division II All American Third Team (1986)
  • Greg Tuttle - NAIA All American Honorable Mention (1990)
  • Paul Shromoff - NAIA Scholar Athlete (1990)
  • Top Ten National Finishes

    Team

  • Bob Korsch, John Patrick, Richard Kolhbry, Jerry LeBreche: 3rd - NAIA (1953)
  • John Patrick, Dave Vosika, Rick Liljedahl, Frank Holappa: 6th - NAIA (1955)
  • Tom Maas, Ron Johnson, Jeff Peterson, Leon Molstad: 3rd - NAIA (1962)
  • Lee Kolquist, John Retica, Tom Waitrovich, Jerry Kirby, Craig Rauvola: 5th - NCAA Division II (1981)
  • Tom Waitrovich, Jerry Kirby, Reed Kolquist, Craig Rauvola, Rich Kirby: 10th - NCAA Division II (1982)
  • Individual

  • Tom Maas - 2nd NAIA (1962)
  • Ron Johnson - 4th NAIA (1962)
  • Lee Kolquist - 9th NCAA Division II (1981)
  • Individual Conference Champions

    Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

  • Walt Bida (1950)
  • John Patrick (1954)+
  • Tom Maas (1960)+
  • Dave Hicks (1966)
  • Dave Hicks (1967)
  • Lyn Ellingson (1971)
  • Northern Intercollegiate Conference

  • Larry Opatz (1977)
  • Lee Kolquist (1978)
  • Tom Waitrovich (1981)
  • Reed Kolquist (1982)
  • John Spreiter (1984)
  • Kyle Anderson (1985)
  • Paul Paoletti (1987)
  • Joe Riekena (1988)
  • + Lost medalist honors in playoff

    NAIA District 13 Champions

  • Rich Kirby (1980)
  • Lee Kolquist (1980)+
  • John Spreiter (1983)
  • + Lost medalist honors in playoff

    Team Conference, District and National Finishes

    MTCC = Minnesota Teachers College Conference
    MIAC = Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
    NIC = Northern Intercollegiate Conference
    DNP = Did not play
    DNQ = Did not qualify
    CUT = Missed the half-way cut

    Head Coaches

  • Lloyd Peterson (1947)
  • Ward Wells (1948-1949)
  • Lew Rickert (1950-1974)
  • Dave Hopkins (1975-1978)
  • George Fisher (1978-1983)
  • James "Butch" Kuronen (1984-1991)
  • Professional Golf Association Member

  • Kyle Anderson
  • Dave Hicks
  • Lee Kolquist
  • Rick Liljedahl
  • Peter Nervick
  • John Patrick
  • Tom Waitrovich
  • References

    Minnesota–Duluth Bulldogs men's golf Wikipedia


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