GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- A new era begins for the Tusculum men's golf program as first-year head coach Adam Buie and the Pioneers open the 2017-2018 at the Queens Invitational (Sep. 18-19).
Coach Buie returns four lettermen from last year's squad that captured three team tournament titles and finished fifth at the South Atlantic Conference championship. Buie took over the program over the summer following the retirement of Hall of Fame coach Bob Dibble, who guided the Pioneers the past 28 seasons.
Also gone are four of the team's top six scorers, including All-SAC honoree Taylor Smith, along with Cameron Dugger (74.2 avg.), Chris Hutson (76.6 avg.) and Preston Tucker (77.0 avg.).
Leading the charge for the Pioneers is Hinsdale, Illinois senior David Whinery. Whinery finished third on the team with his 74.4 stroke average and finished the season strong averaging 70.0 per round in his last three events. He finished in the top-20 in five of his eight events, including three times in the top-10. He captured medalist honors at the rain-shortened Tennessee River Rumble with a five-under par 67 and also finished third at the Tusculum Invitational with 70-69=139 (-3). Whinery tied for fifth place honors in his Tusculum debut at the Etowah Intercollegiate (71-73=144, E) and tied for 12th place at the SAC Championship with 74-35=109 (+3).
Sophomore Anthony Bolden also returns after finish fourth on the roster with his 76.6 scoring average, which included three top-20 performances, including twice in the top-10. The Mokena, Illinois product played in seven events including his sixth-place showing at the Walters State Fall Classic. Bolden tied for ninth at the Tusculum Invitational with 74-69=143 and also logged a 14th place finish at the Tusculum Fall Classic (71-73=144, +2).
Rounding out the list of returning lettermen are sophomores Hunter Chandley and Dylan Scalf. Chandley, a native of Johnson City, Tennessee, posted a 78.8 scoring average, while Scalf, a product of Cincinnati, Ohio, carded an 86.2 stroke average.
Senior Brandon Alexander, who redshirted last season, is expected to contribute in the top half of the line-up for the Pioneers. The Fallston, North Carolina native, previous attended SAC member Lenoir-Rhyne where he was a member of the Bears' baseball team.
Kowalski, a native of Milan, Ohio, was a two-time Conference Player of the Year at Edison High School. He also garnered All-District and All-Conference accolades while also being an All-Academic Ohio student-athlete.
Noe, a Knoxville, Tennessee product, comes to Tusculum after emerging as one of top-three prep golfers in the district and region during his playing career at Catholic High School. He led the Irish to a 2016 region championship while finishing runner-up in the state that season.
Simon, a native of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, earned All-Conference honors three times and became the first player in Sun Prairie High School history to be named Conference Player of the Year and Regional Tournament Champion.
Sweeney, a product of Palos Park, Illinois, earned All-Conference honors and was the team's most valuable player at Brother Rice High School in Chicago. He led BRHS in scoring in each of his three prep campaigns.
Tusculum was scheduled to open the season last week at the Kiawah Island Intercollegiate in South Carolina but the threat of Hurricane Irma hitting the Atlantic coast cancelled that event.
On Monday and Tuesday, Tusculum will travel to Kannapolis, North Carolina for the Queens University of Charlotte Invitational, which is being held at The Club at Irish Creek.
The Pioneers will host the Bob Dibble Classic on Sept. 25-26 at Link Hills Country Club in Greeneville. Entering its 12th season of competition, Tusculum's fall tournament was renamed the Dibble Classic in honor of the former TC head coach. The Pioneers will be vying for its third straight Fall Classic title and seventh overall.
On Oct. 9-10, Tusculum will play at the Lenoir-Rhyne Division II Preview at Rock Barn Golf Club and Spa in Conover, North Carolina. The Pioneers will get an early look at the layout for the 2018 NCAA Super Regional, which will be hosted at Rock Barn in May. This will be Tusculum's first trip to Rock Barn since the site hosted the 2012 South Atlantic Conference championship.
Tusculum will be at the Walters State Fall Classic (Oct. 16-17) at the Country Club of Morristown. The Pioneers return for a sixth straight year as Tusculum has won this tournament three times.
The Pioneers will close out the fall season with a trip to Carrolton, Georgia and the Matt Dyas Invitational, which is hosted by West Georgia. The tournament, scheduled for Oct. 23-24, will be conducted at the Oak Mountain Golf Club.
Tusculum opens the spring season on Feb. 12-13 for the Lincoln Memorial Spring Kickoff while is being held at the Fleming Island Country Club in Florida. This will be Tusculum's third visit to Fleming Island, but first since 2014 when the Pioneers fired a three-round total 878 to finish third in the 16-team field.
A traditional staple on the spring schedule is the annual trip to the Richard Rendleman Invitational (Mar. 5-6), hosted by Catawba in Salisbury, North Carolina. Tusculum has played in every Rendleman Invitational since joining the SAC in 1998.
A late addition to the Tusculum schedule is the Cape Fear National Intercollegiate, which will be held Mar. 11-12 at Leland, North Carolina. The event is hosted by NCAA Division I Appalachian State and the field is anticipated to be a talented one.
The Pioneers host the 25th annual Tusculum Invitational on Mar. 17-18 at Link Hills. Tusculum shot a team score of 569 to win the TC Invitational for a third straight year and fifth time in the last seven years. It was Tusculum eighth TC Invitational overall (1995, 1997, 1998, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017).
Tusculum closes out the regular season on Apr. 3-4 with the Tennessee River Rumble, which will be held at the Tennessee National Golf Club in Loudon. TC finished sixth at last year's event as Whinery posted a five-under par 67 to claim medalist honors.
Tusculum play at the South Atlantic Conference championship on Apr. 8-10 at Cobb's Glen and hosted by Anderson University in South Carolina. It will be the first time Anderson has hosted the league championship as the Pioneers will play at Cobb's Glen for a first time since 2011. The Pioneers have enjoyed success at Cobb's Glen, winning in four of its six trips to Anderson. Tusculum will be vying for its second SAC Championship, winning the event in 2015.
The NCAA II Super Regional will be held May 7-9 at Rock Barn in Conover, North Carolina and hosted by Lenoir-Rhyne. The NCAA II National Championship is slated for May 21-25 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Ford City, Alabama.