This school year, seniors Jacob Lee, Alex Stanz, Sam Sutcliffe and Hunter Von Bergen will be teeing off together for the last time after four years at Augustana.
The group that was part of a six-man freshman class brought in by head coach Danny Sinksen in 2018 will now be the leaders for the men’s golf team this fall and spring.
“It’s weird,” Lee, who was tabbed as the Vikings Preseason Player to Watch, said. “But I think it’s nice having this group of guys because we all have our own experiences with golf. We can all help the younger guys with different sides of the mental game.”
When Lee graduates, he wants to make his way into the banking industry and is currently majoring in business and finance.
“Because business is so broad, you can really find anything and everything,” Lee said. “Something along those lines and in the banking industry is the initial plan. I still have a little bit of time, though.”
For Lee, golf has always been a family connection. He first started picking up clubs around the age of five, and by the time he was in sixth grade, he knew that he wanted to play it competitively.
Last year, Lee and the other seniors all lived together in the same house. They all keep in touch regularly and have bonded through the years to form a tight-knit group.
Stanz says that golf has always been a big part of his family as well. He was able to pick it up when he was young because his whole family did it together. He is also the lone Minnesotan in the group, so when he got to Augustana, he was new to everyone.
“I remember coming in it was a weird experience,” Stanz said. “We have been to a lot of tournaments, and we have grown very close as a group in the 3 years we have been together.”
Stanz is also majoring in business and finance to see where that route takes him. He said he will check in on how the team is doing but is also looking forward to his next step in life.
“For the most part, we did not know each other very well coming in,” Von Bergen said. “Through all the road trips and practices, we have gotten to know each other very well. It’s pretty unique that all four of us have been in the program for four years now.”
Von Bergen, a finance major, plans to get a job in a city that allows him to develop his career. He could see himself staying in Sioux Falls, where he would be able to key his eye on the program in the coming years.
“Golf has meant a lot to me. It is one of the most humbling, mentally challenging sports that has tested me in ways far beyond the course,” Von Bergen said. “I am extremely grateful that I have been able to play the sport I love at a competitive level for the past 4 years at Augustana.”
Sutcliffe plans to graduate this May with a double major in business and finance. He is also looking to remain in Sioux Falls but is still exploring his options post-graduation.
“Coming into my freshman year at Augustana, golf was the thing that I had in common with the other golfers in my class,” Sutcliffe said. “Off the course is where we truly bonded as friends, thanks to golf, the four of us have been able to travel the country and create great memories together.”
Augustana’s men’s golf program plays its second tournament of 2021-22 on Monday and Tuesday at the Hardrocker Invitational hosted by South Dakota Mines in Rapid City, South Dakota.