The Bob Jones University men’s golf team qualified for nationals for the third time in the program’s history, following previous qualifications in 2017 and 2021. They placed third, their best placing so far at the NCCAA championship.
The Bruins started the tournament strong, ending their first day in second place behind Malone University. On the second day, BJU fell to third place behind Cedarville University. They came strong on the last day and ended in third place, only one stroke behind Cedarville.
Earlier this month, the Bruins golf team placed fifth in the Piedmont University Fall Invitational in Clarkesville, Georgia. They also won the NCCAA South Region Championship in September for the second year in a row and third year overall.
Based on their performance in the tournaments leading up to the national championship, the top five players were chosen to represent the Bruins in the national tournament. The five players each play a round, and the four lowest scores are added together to create the team score.
The five Bruins players that made the cut for nationals were Grant Bagwell, a senior business administration major; Jason Ross, a senior biology major; Timothy Smith, a junior sport management major; Ethan Craddock, a sophomore business administration major; and Zachary Groce, a second-year sport management major. Bagwell and Smith cocaptain the team.
Josiah Swaffer, a junior business administration major, performed well in recent tournaments and accompanied the team to the championship, although he cannot participate because of the five-player limit. The team is not allowed to have substitutes. “If you’re down a man, you’re just down a man,” Bagwell said.
The team has 16 players, including seven freshmen. “The recruiting class of players this year was the largest in the program’s history so far,” Bagwell said. Head coach Dr. Denny Scott said he is impressed by the skill of the team beyond just the top athletes. “The depth of team this year is probably the best we’ve ever had,” Scott said.
Scott said the coaching staff view sports as a means to disciple and mentor students in personal growth and spiritual maturity. “We want to see them develop in character and in their leadership and in their testimony and example. Golf is just the tool to accomplish that work,” Scott said. “Relationships are more important than championships.”