By: Danny Mooers; Assistant Sports Information Director
Golf isn’t only a game. It’s an infuriating escapade that puts those bold enough to try it through all of life’s emotions. Heart break, elation and anger are likely going to be felt on the first hole. It takes a special person to spend their days trying to perfect golf.
Will Mulder and Kyle Colyn, two of Dordt’s senior golfers, have spent the past four years together trying to do just that. In golf, misery loves company. For Will and Kyle, they wanted to make each other miserable.
“Whether it was for cheese curds at the grill or bragging rights, we always made golf into a competition,” Mulder said. “It made things a little more fun.”
Mulder came in to Dordt with the intention of playing both basketball and golf. After freshman year, he decided to give up basketball and focus solely on golf.
“His decision to give up basketball was a win for me,” said Mark Christians, the head golf coach. “He put all of his focus on improving on the course.”
At 6’5”, distance and power has never been an issue for Mulder. No matter the Iowa wind conditions, it never stood a chance against his distance. The Worthington, Minnesota native had already been exposed to the elements, so adjusting his game wasn’t much of an issue. His short game, however, proved to be a bit more difficult to master.
Coming in as a freshmen, Mulder had relied on his ability to reach the green easily, so short game skills weren’t as necessary. He found success despite lacking in that area.
Colyn came in to the program as the exact opposite to Mulder. Hailing from California, Colyn rarely had to deal with inclement weather. He had a very high ball flight and was never very long off of the tee. What he lacked distance and power, he made up in his solid short game.
“I remember playing with Kyle my freshmen year and I would get frustrated,” Mulder said. “Any time he got it around the green, it was one chip and one putt. It pushed me to get better at my short game.”
Freshmen year was a big leap for both players. The courses played a few hundred yards longer, greens were faster and the competition level was higher.
“Every opening tee shot freshmen year made me nervous,” Mulder said.
Mulder shot an average of 80.4 his freshmen year. His low round of 78 came in the first GPAC tournament of the year. Colyn averaged 82.3, but finished the year with rounds of 79 and 80 to set the tone for the following season.
Like many collegiate athletes, the transition and offseason between freshmen and sophomore year is vital. Athletes get more comfortable in every facet of their lives. They’ve found their friend groups, classes start to make a bit more sense and confidence in their athletic abilities grow. In the case of golf, the courses don’t seem as long and their opponents become more familiar.
“The biggest change for me was my mental game,” Colyn said.
It’s no secret that golf is played primarily “between the ears.” All successful professional golfers have a quote about how important it is to always look ahead and never dwell on past experiences.
For Mulder, the offseason emphasis was still on improving short game.
Both players cut their averages by two strokes during their sophomore seasons. Even though they played more tournaments, the averages and consistency improved. Colyn finished with an average of 80.4; highlights included a two-day total of 155 at the Mount Marty Invite and a two-day total of 149 at the Siouxland Invite. Both were good enough for top-20 finishes.
Mulder ended the year with a 78.2 average. He finished in second place at the Siouxland Invite with a two-day total of 143. He had another top-10 finish at the Midland Spring Invite; finishing with an average of 75.6 over the three days.
Both players were quickly solidifying their roles as top players on the team.
“I think the end of sophomore year is where both started to put an emphasis on the competition between one another,” Christians said. “They were both better than the other in certain areas and they wanted to close those gaps as quickly as possible.”
The 2017-2018 season marked their debut as upperclassmen and roommates. There was no escaping the competition. It went from the golf course to racing for the nicest chair in the living room.
Mulder edged out Colyn by .4 of a stroke for their yearly average. Mulder had 77.4 and Colyn finished with 77.8.
Both players earned two top-10 finishes on the year as well. Colyn had his first in the Siouxland Invite finishing tenth with a two-day total of 146. His other tenth place finish came at the Mount Marty Invite where he shot 82 and 75.
Mulder shot 78 and 71 at the Midland Fall Invite and finished tenth. The Mount Marty Invite was also good to Mulder. He shot 79 and 75 to earn sixth place.
“Junior year was a lot of fun for both of us,” Mulder said. “We had Tony (Kallevig) and Jay (Timmer) as seniors and they taught us a lot. Tony was always near the top of the leaderboard and Jay was constantly improving. They set the tone.”
When senior year rolled around, Mulder and Colyn had to step in as team leaders. Golf is a different type of sport where captains don’t play as important of a role. There isn’t a motivational speech before meets and most players like to be left alone to do their own thing.
“We both lead by our actions,” Mulder said. “Whether it was practicing in the rain or spending extra time on the practice green, we hope that our dedication spread throughout the team and inspired the guys to work to get better.”
Offering tips on the range or playing nine with the younger guys also proved to be helpful.
Senior year was a back-and-forth battle between Mulder and Colyn. Both were playing their best overall golf of their careers.
Colyn edged Mulder in the first event of the year with a two-day score of 153 compared to Mulder’s 154.
Colyn kept his edge in the Fall GPAC Championships with a two-day score of 152. Mulder was right behind with a two-day score of 153.
The Spring GPAC Championships rolled around and so did the opportunity for final bragging rights. After day three, Colyn kept his one stroke lead after both players shot 76.
Mulder came out on the final day and shot 74. Colyn struggled and finished his career with an 83.
“Looking back, the final two days of the GPAC this spring were the best golf I played my entire four years at Dordt,” Mulder said. “I played smart, consistent and things just felt right.”
While it was tough for Colyn to swallow, he doesn’t have much to hold his head about. He consistently improved his overall average every year and Mulder gives him a lot of credit for his growth.
“If it wasn’t for Kyle I probably wouldn’t played nearly as much golf as I did,” he said. “He always dragged me to the course and made me a better player.”
The four years of collegiate golf at Dordt were full of highlights for both Mulder and Colyn. Spring break trips to Alabama and Arizona, top-10 finishes and other random moments at practice and bus rides will stick in their memories for years. Both would love to coach and share their knowledge of the game with younger golfers.
They were quick to offer advice to the freshmen and incoming recruits. For Mulder, it was work on short game. It’s easy to hit the ball a long way, but an inconsistent short game turns a 78 into an 82 faster that one would like.
For Colyn, staying strong mentally is key. Grinding out a round when it’s going poorly is difficult. However, finishing strong on the final six holes can keep a round okay instead of awful.
“When I recruit players, I look at four things,” Christians said. “God, family, school and golf. I want to see where they rank those and see if they would be a good fit. Kyle and Will both showcased these in great ways and I’m grateful for all they added to this program.”