After a long offseason, the men’s and women’s golf teams are gearing up to hit the links again this spring. Both sides look to get back in form and make a strong push for the Ivy League Championships come mid-April.
The journey to winning the league is already underway, even before the first tee. Despite the inconvenient New England weather, both squads have taken it upon themselves to make the most of this lengthy break.
“We’ve been doing everything we can, preparing a lot indoors and outdoors when possible,” freshman Anina Ku said. “Overall we’re really happy with the plan we’ve made and how we’re executing it.”
Ku and fellow freshman Elizabeth Wang were second and first respectively on the women’s team in terms of average score this past fall. This translated to an individual best finish of third for Wang and fifth for Ku. The team earned its overall top result at the Dartmouth Invitational, placing second in a field of 15 teams in the first tournament of the season.
The Crimson women will kick their new campaign off with a trip to Florida for the Harvard Invitational on March 30th. This will be followed by a special matchplay event hosted by Princeton on April 6th, before the Ivy League Championships in Ringoes, N.J. on April 19th.
The team obviously wants to score as low as possible and place as well as it can, but that isn’t at the core of its mindset. The Crimson knows that it must focus on improving each and every day in order to have success in the long run.
“A lot of our goals are based on doing everything we can every practice, every workout,” Ku said. “Our main goal was and always will be making sure we’re giving our best effort for every practice and every shot in every round.”
This sentiment is certainly one that is echoed on the men’s side as well. They are currently working on strength and conditioning twice a week in addition to their five normal practices. The group is eager to reap the benefits from their offseason efforts and prove that it can perform at a high level.
“Everyone’s very motivated,” junior Rij Patel said. “I think that’s been the most important thing. We’ve used this time to really progress and we’re all very excited for our first tournament.”
The injury-ravaged squad stumbled through the fall but is now returning to full-strength for the spring. The past season was highlighted by a fifth place finish at the Quechee Invitational for Harvard. In terms of individual performances, Patel’s average score of 71.63 and sophomore Grant Fairbairn’s 73.25 led the way.
The men’s team has four events to look forward to, one more than the Crimson women. It all begins with a unique trip to Scottsdale, Ariz. on March 9th for the Michigan Desert Mountain Tournament. Usually the first contest takes place after spring break, but this year it is on the earlier side.
“We’re trying to use this tournament as a way to kickstart our season,” Patel said. “I think it’s just an amazing opportunity to play a tournament like this before spring break and get a head start to our season. I think it’ll be a good indicator of where we’re at and we’ll use that as a way to push our games’ forward.”
A little over a month later the Ivy League Championships will begin on April 19th in Elverson, Pa. This will be a three-day affair at a tricky course, forcing the teams to display significant resolve and skill in order to come out on top.
“It’s going to be a very close and tough championship to win this year,” Patel said. “All the teams are working really hard and we’re just going to focus on what we can do. We focus on our controllables. I think that’s all we can ask for and whatever happens, happens.”
For both the Harvard men and women, a championship team will not form overnight. Success will be the result of consistent improvement and determination over the next two months. Furthermore, it will require contributions from every individual on the roster.
Despite this pressure to do well, it is what every athlete dreams about. Having the opportunity to help one’s team work towards a championship is what fuels the long practices and the countless weight room sessions. That is why when the time comes, every golfer will be ready to seize the moment.
“The way our team is looking right now, every person who goes to a tournament could do something incredible,” Ku said.
—Staff writer Kostas Tingos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.