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Point Park University to Add Golf Teams in the Fall

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

For the first time in nearly four decades, Point Park will have a golf team this coming fall.

The Point Park athletic department announced Monday that it will be adding a men’s golf team and a women’s golf team in the fall. The Pioneers will be competing on the links for the first time since the 1970-71 school year, and director of athletics Dan Swalga is pleased to announce the addition of the golf programs.

“We are excited about presenting this opportunity to our students,” said Swalga, who will begin his fourth year as director of athletics in the fall. “Adding athletic programs fits in well with the university’s strategic initiative of Managed Growth. Although we have plenty of organizing to do, we look forward to competing in men’s and women’s golf in the fall.”

Men’s golf had a brief history at Point Park for five years from 1966-71, and the Pioneers will have a women’s golf team for the first time in their history this fall.

Swalga named Gabe Bubon the head coach of the men’s and women’s golf programs. For the last four years, Bubon has been the top assistant coach for the Point Park men’s basketball team, a role that he will continue in the future. Bubon served as the community director in the school’s campus life office for the last two years, but he will no longer serve in that capacity. 

Bubon is Point Park’s fourth men’s golf coach, and the first-ever women’s golf coach. As a player, Bubon is a 4-handicap who plays most of his rounds competing in scratch leagues in his native Ohio. He earned four letters in golf at Warren G. Harding High School, and was the team’s No. 1 player as a senior. 

“This is a great opportunity for me, and I look forward to building a golf program that Point Park University can be proud of,” said Bubon. “This opportunity allows me to combine my two passions – golf and basketball. I’m excited to restart the golf team and also continue my role as men’s basketball assistant coach.” 

Bubon played basketball at Point Park in 1999-2000. He led the Pioneers in scoring at 20.1 points per game, a figure that ranked 10th in NAIA Division I. Bubon holds the school’s single-game scoring record with 45 points versus Shawnee State on Feb. 11, 2000. 

The Point Park golf teams will compete in the American Mideast Conference, which included 10 men’s teams and seven women’s teams this past year. Like the other nine sports, the Pioneers’ golf teams will be affiliated with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

Adding those two teams will give the Pioneers a total of 11 sports that compete on the varsity level. Point Park’s varsity teams also include baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, softball and volleyball.

Although Point Park has not fielded a golf team in nearly four decades, the Pioneers built a strong golf program in the team’s early years. The Point Park men’s golf program started in 1966-67, and the 1967-68 season was the first year versus four-year competition. The Pioneers were 3-6 in 1966-67 and were 5-6 in 1967-68.  Both of those teams were captained by Steve Tatrai and coached by Mike Goldberger.

Point Park’s best season came in 1968-69 when it posted a 10-2 record and registered a fourth-place finish at the NAIA Championship. Jim Masserio, who was inducted into the Pioneer Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000, was third at the NAIA tournament that year. Masserio was a two-time champion of the West Penn Open (1969 and 1971), and he won the United States Junior Amateur title in 1965.

A transfer from Memphis State, Masserio enjoyed a professional career on the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour after leaving Point Park. Masserio turned professional in 1973, and his best finishes as a pro included a third-place showing at the Tournament Players Championship in 1976 and a fourth-place finish at the 1975 Kemper Open. As recently as 1999, he was in the top 100 on the Champions Tour money list.

Point Park hosted its own tournament four times from 1967-70. The Pioneer Classic was held at Champion Lakes Golf Club in Ligonier, Pa., and it regularly drew the top teams in the area. Point Park won the tournament the last two times it was played, and both times the Pioneers edged powerful Pitt and IUP for the title.

At the Third Annual Pioneer Classic in fall of 1969, Point Park edged Pitt by four shots thanks to taking three of the top four individual places. Point Park’s Jim Coslov defeated teammate Sam Depe and IUP’s Chris Adams in a playoff to take medalist honors. Masserio finished fourth as Point Park, Pitt and IUP accounted for the top eight individual performances.

Depe, a native of Bridgeville, has continued his ties to the Pittsburgh golf scene. He was the longtime head golf professional at South Hills Country Club before taking over ownership of Hickory Heights Golf Course in Bridgeville within the last year. Depe was named the Pioneers’ most valuable player as a freshman in 1967-68.

For the first two years of the program Point Park’s home course was Cedarbrook Golf Course in Belle Vernon. In 1968-69, coach James Ruane’s team played its home matches at Ponderosa Golf Course in Hookstown. Ruane was also the coach in 1969-70 before giving way to former player Barry Bevec in 1970-71.

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