College of Southern Maryland Golf ready for the season despite short roster
- By TED BLACK firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mar 17, 2017
Granted, College of Southern Maryland third-year head golf coach Robbie Early will only have a grand sum of four players on the roster this spring, but the Hawks coach and his top returning sophomore, Mark Escanilla, will be very familiar with the team's home course and expect the team's quality will offset its lack of quantity.
Early is the head golf professional at Swan Point Yacht & Country Club in Issue and it also happens to be the home course for CSM and Escanilla, a North Point High School graduate from Waldorf who routinely finishes within three strokes of par at the par-72 course. Early admittedly took up golf somewhat belatedly, but Escanilla has been hitting the links for over 10 years now.
"I've always liked playing Swan Point," said Escanilla, whose best round there is a 7-under-par 65 while admittedly normally hovering two or three strokes above par. "It's one of the more challenging courses in the area and it's one of those courses that definitely requires you to be good at every aspect of your game, especially in the short game."
Escanilla is one of only two returning players on the squad along with Bryan Bowser (a Northern High School graduate from Dunkirk) and that tandem is joined by only two incoming freshmen, Alex O'Neil (a St. Mary's Ryken High School graduate from Newburg) and Ryan Stearns (a Leonardtown High School graduate from Leonardtown).
The Hawks will only field a trio of golfers for their season opener on March 23 at Swan Point as Stearns is part of the CSM men's basketball team that won the NJCAA Region XX Division II tournament last weekend at Garrett College and will be headed to Danville Area Community College in Illinois for the NJCAA Division II national championships March 21 to 25.
Early, who has been a member of the Professional Golfers Association since June 1, was named the head golf pro at Swan Point on July 1 and now oversees a quartet of players at CSM who play there on a regular basis. Although Stearns will be absent for the season opener against Hagerstown Community College, Cecil Community College, Allegany Community College, Garrett College and Anne Arundel Community College, he should be available to the Hawks when they face Anne Arundel at South River on March 30.
"I'm happy for Ryan and all the guys on the CSM men's team," Early said. "Those guys worked hard in practice all season and now they get to play for a national championship. We only have four guys on the roster, but most teams send out five and then the top four score so it's not that big a difference. The quality of the four guys that we have is really good and I'm excited to see what they can do this season."
Escanilla will be the team's No. 1 player, but Early is already high on O'Neil, who was the runner-up in the Swan Point men's club championship last year. Early expects Bowser, whose home course is Old South Country Club in Anne Arundel County, and Stearns, who currently hones his skills at Breton Bay Golf & Country Club in Leonardtown, should quickly adapt to the setting at Swan Point.
"There's no doubt that Swan Point is probably the toughest course our guys play, but they're familiar with it and that should give us an advantage when we host the Region XX tournament on May 6 and 7," Early said. "Bryan should be able to score in the mid-70s and Alex has a lot of poise for a young kid and he played exceptionally well here in the club championship. My assistant coach, David Russell is the head coach at La Plata and he knows that Ryan will be able to play our course well."
CSM will participate in a preseason scrimmage March 20 to 22 in Williamsburg, Va. then return home for its season opener on March 23 still one player short. The Hawks will then have a full complement of players for their away matches against Anne Arundel on March 30 at South River, Cecil (April 6), Hagerstown (April 13), Allegany (April 20) and at Garrett for the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference tournament on April 27.