BEIJING – Under normal circumstances, the former Beijing golfer Jack halsteadhis career with the Parkland College men’s golf team reportedly ended after the spring 2020 season.
But these were not normal times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NJCAA has canceled the spring 2020 sporting season, just ahead of the men’s spring trip from Parkland to Florida. Because of this, the spring sports athletes were given an additional year of eligibility – and Halstead decided to stay in Parkland for another year.
âI really enjoyed my first two years there,â said Halstead. âI got to experience college life, be far but not too far from home and play golf. Parkland had it all.
“Plus, I thought we had a shot at being the national champion in (2020), and I didn’t feel any different in (2021).”
Two other sophomores from the Parkland Men’s Golf Team have competed in NCAA Division I men’s golf programs, including former Beijing golfer Mason Ghidina, who landed at Houston Baptist.
Win a championship
Halstead’s decision to stay in Parkland, located not far from the University of Illinois at Champaign campus, turned out to be a smart one.
The Parkland Men’s Golf Team won their first NJCAA Division II National Championship this spring on the black par 72 course at Swan Lake Resort in Plymouth, Indiana.
Halstead was named to the tournament’s all-star squad after shooting 10 to 298, good for a tie for 15th in the tournament’s individual standings.
Parkland entered the final round with a one-stroke lead over tournament favorite South Mountain. Parkland shot 294 in the final round, with Halstead’s 1-over 73 the second-lowest of the team’s four tally scores. South Mountain shot 295 and came home to Phoenix, Ariz. In second place.
Parkland coach Corbin Sebens hasn’t escaped the sidelines of a school in hot weather.
âIt was a huge accomplishment for a school in cold weather,â he said. “I was at a loss for words when we won.”
On the way to Florida
Halstead is heading to the Gulf Coast of Florida to end his college career after earning an associate’s degree at Parkland.
The 21-year-old plans to major in data analysis and computer science at Florida Gulf Coast, a Fort Myers school that had nearly 15,400 enrolled in 2020.
Halstead has family in the Fort Myers area “and I would love to leave Illinois for a while,” he said. When it comes to golf, Halstead could try his hand at the men’s team as a substitute.
“It’s not out of the question,” he said. “I’m not close to being done with golf. It’s a sport I can play all my life.”
Halstead played golf in Beijing for four years. He has been twice qualified in a state tournament and a regional medalist and winner of the All-Mid-Illini Conference first team as a senior.
Having Lick Creek Golf Course as the home course for the Dragons helped his golfing career after high school, Halstead said.
âA lot of golfers will say that,â he said. “Lick Creek gives you all of the challenges you need to be a better golfer.”
More success in Beijing
Ghidina, Halstead’s former teammate in Beijing and Parkland, has had a strong junior season at Houston Baptist.
The 68 he shot at the Colin Montgomerie-HBU Invitational in March tied the lowest score recorded by a Baptist golfer from Houston last season and earned him a seventh place in the tournament standings.
For the season, he averaged 76.63 for 16 rounds.
Ghidina was a star for two seasons at Parkland, he was ranked 14th best player in NJCAA Division II and he was a member of the Division II Second Team All-Star in his sophomore year, and he was named. Mid-West Athletic Conference Male Athlete of the Year.
Steve Stein can be contacted at (248) 224-2616 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.