Aug 15, 2014 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorFour men and one woman make up the 2014-15 roster in the inaugural golf program for the Central Wyoming College Rustlers.
Wyoming players on the men's side are former Lander Valley High School player Patrick McGowan, Laramie's Robbie Harding and Ryan Ellis from Casper Natrona.
Justin Burk from Salt Lake City, rounds out the team.
"I think that it's real important to start with trying to develop the right culture from the beginning," CWC golf and men's basketball coach Pat Rafferty said. "The same thing was important last year for my basketball team."
Rafferty also is head men's basketball coach for the Rustlers.
Cheyenne South's Kristin Day is the sole member of the women's team so far.
"We want kids who are going to buy into our school academically and what our program is about socially, and be competitive," Rafferty said.
Golf, along with the men's and women's cross country, were added to the CWC sports lineup in March.
"The reaction was very positive, and it continues to be very positive," Rafferty said. "The only thing was, it was just kind of late when everything got improved. The response has been terrific in the state and in the region. It's going to be a home run."
Golf programs in the Region IX are CWC, Northeastern Junior College, McCook Community College, Eastern Wyoming Community College, Otero Junior College, Lamar Community College and Trinidad State Junior College.
"We are giving student athletes an opportunity for kids that want to play golf who aren't ready to play in the Mountain West Conference," Rafferty said.
The Rustlers will practice on the Riverton County Club course this fall. The club hosts a U.S. Open local qualifying round every year, plus the annual Saltwater Classic.
"With the way those greens are, I think that it's the best course in the state," Rafferty said. "That is why they get pros to play in the Saltwater. That is a huge selling point for our kids, to get to come in and play on that golf course."
Harding placed 10th last fall for Laramie at the Class 4-A state golf tournament in Rock Springs.
Harding had scores of 84 and 82 for a two-day total of 166.
"We have guys who can get low scores and for the first time put them in a year-round environment," Rafferty said. "They are all going to get better. They are all athletic."
Day placed fifth in the Class 4-A state girls golf tournament with scores of 100 and 84 to end at a two-day total of 184.
"In Wyoming, the high school season is so short due to weather," Rafferty said. '"They all have chance to make strides with their improvement."
McGowan was an all-state golfer for Lander in 2007-08.
McGowan redshirted on the golf team at Eastern Wyoming College after high school.
"Pat loves to play," Rafferty said. "He is a good player, and he competes hard. The timing is right for Pat, and the situation that we provided him is tremendous."
The Rustlers start practice in early September.
"These kids have played golf all summer," Rafferty said.
The main season for the Rustlers will be in the spring.
"It's opposite of high school golf," Rafferty said. "I want to give them some competition and allow them to compete in the fall so they will have a reference point to carry over in the spring."
The schedule is still in the works for the CWC golf team.
"I would like to have three tournaments in the fall," Rafferty said.
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