KINGSTON, R.I. - The Rhode Island golf team will open its 2017-18 season this weekend at The Doc Gimmler, hosted by St. John's. The 54-hole tournament will be played at the Bethpage Red Course in Farmingdale, N.Y.
Junior Dawson Jones and redshirt sophomore Jason Short return as the only regulars from Rhode Island's 2016-17 lineup. Jones - an All-Northeast, All-New England and All-Atantic 10 performer - competed in each of URI's 10 events as a sophomore, while Short competed in all but one.
"We'll be really, really young this year, but I'm really looking forward to coaching this team," head coach Gregg Burke said. "Dawson has 20 college tournaments under his belt, but after that, the rest of the roster combines for just 19."
Also returning for the Rams are redshirt junior Brody King - who played in four tournaments last spring - as well as redshirt sophomore Blake DiPaola and sophomore Burke Barsamian. DiPaola competed in a total of five events a year ago - four in the fall and one in the spring - while Barsamian's lone action came in a pair of spring tournaments.
And, for the first time in four years, Rhody Golf will be competing without one of the most decorated student-athletes in the program's history.
"Two years ago, we graduated four of our top six," Burke explained. "Last year, we lost three of our top six, including a four-year starter in Billy Walthouse. Losing a competitor like that is simply impossible to overcome."
"Chris and Bobby both had great summer tournament success and will be in the lineup for sure," Burke said. "Chris clearly looks to be one of the very best we've ever had. Jason Short is really coming into his own as well. We need him to play well in order for this team to be successful."
The Rams will be put to the test early on as they seek to defend their team title at the Doc Gimmler, having finished five strokes ahead of second-place Seton Hall a year ago. Jones and Short both turned in top-20 performances at last year's event, placing second and 19th, respectively.
From there, the Rams will compete at the Hartford Hawks Invitational (Sept. 18-19), the Queechee Club Collegiate Challenge (Sept. 23-24) and the Connecticut Cup (Oct. 9-10) before closing out the fall at the Georgetown Intercollegiate (Oct. 16-17).
"Once again we have a terrific schedule," Burke said. "We will look to defend at Bethpage and Quechee, wrapped around our trip to Bulls Bridge, before UConn's tournament and then our annual trip to Georgetown."
Rhode Island will open the spring at the Mission Inn Spring Spectacular (March 17-18), followed by the Coca-Cola Invitational (April 1-2). The Rams will then travel to Villanova for the Wildcat Invitational (April 9-10) before returning home to host the Rhode Island Invitational (April 16-17). Rhody's lone home event of the year will serve as the team's final tune-up before heading to Orlando for the Atlantic 10 Championship (April 27-29).