Golfer returns home to WLU after short NCAA stint

Photo by Will Huang

Photo by Will Huang

When golfer Eric Flockhart packed his bags and moved south of the border to play in the NCAA in the fall of 2012, he never expected to be finishing his university career back home. The golfer was convinced that he would be spending his next four years in Maryland, as a new recruit for Mount Saint Mary’s University.

But the Mississauga native now finds himself on the Wilfrid Laurier University roster, and despite the stress to get here, has made an immediate impact.

“I was recruited, so I went down there my first year and I visited the campus directly after I finished my high school exams,” Flockhart said, upon arriving to Saint Mary’s. “I signed my national letter of intent right then, and then I went down in August and had a fantastic time while I was there.”

However when Flockhart finally arrived to start school, he hit a couple speed bumps along the way. It started when the head coach decided to transfer to Bowling State University in Ohio. However the bad news didn’t end there.

“Unfortunately after my first semester they called a big meeting and they announced that they were cutting funding to the golf teams,” he said.

Everything changed in the blink of an eye. The team’s top player transferred over the Christmas break. Bad quickly turned to worse, as two of Flockhart’s teammates decided to petition the NCAA for their full year of eligibility back, opting to sit out during their spring season in hopes to play in grad school.

“I looked through the summer for places to transfer because my plan was to stay in the US, and then ultimately decided to come back for a semester. So I went through my first semester sophomore year and about halfway through I had some offers to stay in the US, but nothing I really wanted.”

After weighing all of his options, Flockhart decided that the NCAA wasn’t the best option for him and decided to return home to Canada. According to Flockhart, a couple reasons contributed to his decision to come play for Laurier.

“Before I signed my letter of intent to go down to the Mount after school, I obviously applied in Ontario as a ‘just in case’ kind of thing, and it was I believe my second choice. Coming home I wanted to be close enough to home to make it matter. I knew Laurier had a half decent golf team, and I knew the former coach Jim Zwolak, so I figured it would be a good fit that way.”

“It seemed like the best decision, the best place to come back to.”

It would turn out to be a good fit. Flockhart’s game improved after only posting one top ten finish while attending Mount Saint Mary’s, posting three with Laurier in the 2014 season. According to Flockhart, compared to their NCAA counterparts, Laurier’s golf team would rank in the top 50 among NCAA caliber teams.

“I was very surprised when I returned to play for Laurier in terms of competition,” Flockhart said. “The level of competition was definitely a lot higher than I expected, you know it wouldn’t be as high as the top teams in the NCAA, but our team last year would have competed well in the NCAA.”

Most recently, Flockhart finished in the top 20 with teammates Austin Ryan and Daley Byles at the Canadian University/College Championships last May. The competition in the Ontario University Athletics conference came as a welcoming surprise to Flockhart after his short stint playing south of the border.

“It was exceptional,” Flockhart said. “I found my game stepped up. I had played well all summer but I found it got pretty good coming into the fall so I got super confident going into tournaments and stuff which was nice.”

Flockhart and the golf team will be looking to start their season off on a good note when they travel to London to participate in the Western Invitational. Tee off is at 11a.m on Thursday Sept. 17 and will go for two days.

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