PARKVILLE, Mo. – Park University golf coach Tony Blake has a roster. Thursday, he announced the signing of five newcomers for the 2017-18 season, bringing the Pirates to a full team of six before the end of the 2016-17 academic year.
"I am extremely excited and proud to announce five new members of our men's golf team here at Park University," Blake said. "All five players have a high ceiling. We are going to work hard and smart to give them the best opportunity to reach it. I think the most important thing I can say is each and every one of these guys are eager to work, eager to play and make history next year. I couldn't be happier with the direction our program is headed."
Kansas City Kansas Community College provided two of the Pirates' new faces, as Zach Spencer and Evan Shartzer, both from Overland Park, are both Blue Devil exes.
Spencer played in the 2015-16 season for KCKCC, carding a second-place finish at the Ottawa Invitational, shooting 72 in a rain-shortened event, and he was also a second-place finisher at his NJCAA regional tournament, qualifying for the NJCAA national tournament, where he shot 76-75-78-73 at Swan Lake golf Course in Plymouth, Indiana. Spencer also played in last year's Kansas City Amateur, where he finished tied for 24th in a field of 84, shooting 74 before a pair of 76s at Kansas City's Shoal Creek Golf Club. Spencer will begin his career at Park as a junior, with two years of eligibility remaining.
"Zach has made huge improvements to his game the past few months, working tirelessly on things that needed to be addressed to take him to the level he wants to play," Blake said. "I strongly believe Zach will accomplish a lot and has nothing but a great amount of success ahead of him."
Shartzer spent one semester at UMKC before transferring to KCK, and in 2016-17, he appeared in 11 tournaments with a scoring average of 76.4. At Blue Valley North High School, Shartzer helped the Mustangs to a Class 6A state title in 2012 and a fourth-place finish in 2013, finishing fourth as a sophomore, shooting 76. He was also third at the 2013 AJGA KPMG Stacy Lewis Open and finished fourth in the 2013 Kansas Junior Amateur with a low round of 71. Shartzer will also begin his Park tenure as a junior, with two years to play.
"Evan is a tall, strong kid with a huge upside," Blake said. "He's just now starting to see what he is capable of doing with his game. Evan is also bringing a lot of experience and will be a player that we will strongly rely on."
A third local product, Nick Rehmer, will join the Pirates as a freshman in 2017-18, a 2013 product of Blue Springs South High School. As a senior, Rehmer won the Suburban Conference, shooting 68 and district with 74 at Fred Arbanas, and he was second at sectionals, with a 71 at Adam's Pointe Golf Club.
"Nick is excited to have a chance to prove himself," Blake said. "He's very, very talented. He's still raw but has the right mindset and the mechanics to make a big impact in a short amount of time."
Rehmer's senior season culminated with a sixth-place finish at the Missouri state championship, shooting 79-70 at Rivercut in Springfield, Missouri.
Blake also added incoming junior Wes Buntenbach, from Klemme, Iowa, who played his last two seasons at Iowa Central Community College. Buntenbach is no stranger to Park's golf courses – The National Golf Club of Kansas City and The Deuce at The National – as Iowa Central has appeared in the last six home events for the Pirates, four including Buntenbach on the roster.
He helped Iowa Central win the men's side of the Virginia McCoy Intercollegiate last month, at The Deuce, finishing with a two-day score of 150, good for second at the event.
"Wes has shown vast improvement over the last few years and brings valuable collegiate experience to Park," Blake said. "He's a determined player and is very coachable. I'm excited to work with Wes and see where we can take his game."
Blake's final signee in his first wave is Yannick Koehnen, a German freshman from the German state of Nordrhein Westfalen. In 2015, Koehnen won the Volksbank Open in 71-72 and ended his competitive season with a fifth-place finish in the Under 18 NRW Championship. In 2016, he had a third-place finish in the Libori Tournament, won the Sparkassen Cup with a 2-under par 70, and shot even par in Youth Cup Onsabruck.
"Yannick has had tremendous success in Germany," Blake said. "He's a top-level player that would fit in on any program in the country. I've worked with international players for many years and although it will take him a few months to get acclimated to our weather, our golf courses and the type of grass we play on, he will be a player that will make headlines."
The five future Pirates signed by Blake this week make six with Dakota Soukup, who signed with Park University early in the spring.