This year, all five starters on the varsity golf team live in the Chi Phi fraternity house. All sports teams help build relationships between teammates, but being a part of a brotherhood together has added a new dimension to the team’s chemistry because they live together and they’re always hanging out, talking golf. These bonds are already starting to translate into results on the course.
The Red just finished its fall season with an 11th place finish at the James Madison Invitational. The top Cornell golfer was sophomore Robbie Fritz who placed 14th in the individual competition. This continued Fritz’s streak of finishing in the top-20 of every tournament the Red played this fall. This remarkable achievement can be attributed to his greater maturity, stronger skills, and mental toughness. But one element of his success that can’t be overlooked is the advantages he knows that he gains from living in the same house as his fellow teammates.
“I don’t like to practice, and it motivates me to go and work on my game when my roommates are going up to the course to practice.” Fritz said.
Fritz has a lot of trouble hiding from his teammates when they go to practice since his roommates are the other two sophomore starters on the team – Bret Perry and Chad Bernstein.
The motivation to practice is particularly important for the guys since the snow prevents practice during the cold and blustery winter months, which usually leaves the golf course closed from October to April.
“We putt and swing clubs almost everyday. Chad even uses a lot different swing aids to work on his game in the winter,” Perry said.
The bonds that the guys have formed living together, according to them, are almost more important than the time they spend putting inside their house.
“We live togheter, so we hang out together and we’ll talk about golf for a while everyday. I feel like we’re a family. We’re best friends,” Perry said.
The sophomores were recruited by senior captain Andy Sliwa. He’s continuing a tradition – the golfers have always been in Chi Phi. Sliwa knows that the advantages of being a part of this brotherhood far outweigh the problems.
“We’re more passionate about our sport than anyone else. Hell, we watch the Golf Channel together every night,” Sliwa said. “If you were to combine us into one person and compare us to a player on the PGA tour, we’d definitely be John Daly – the ultimate frat boy.”
Fritz agrees that they are a unique breed of individuals.
“Everyone else has beer posters and naked chicks on their walls. We have golf memorabilia. But actually, Andy combines the two – he has a poster of a hot girl driving a snack cart around a golf course.”
Of course they have a great time living together and they joke around a lot, but there are some very concrete ways that this living arrangement has helped the golf team to play better.
“It makes it easier for [head] coach [Matt Baughan] because we all keep an eye on each other,” Bernstein said.
According to Perry, living with his teammates has also made him focus more on the team aspect of golf, rather than his personal performance.
“When we’re playing well it’s great. They prevent me from getting down on myself,” he said.
Yet, Perry added that his own play sometimes gets puts under a microscope by the guys in his house that aren’t on the squad.
“It’s just miserable having to come back to the house when I play poorly. I know the first question I’m going to hear from everyone is ‘How did you do?’ And that’s the last thing I want to hear if I didn’t play well that weekend,” he said.
However, the guys note that their relationships with each other are something they would not give up for the world, as their relationships with each other have produced quality results throughout the season.
This became evident in the Red’s trip to St. Bonaventure earlier this fall. Bernstein was in danger of losing his status as a starter and knew that he would be off the “A” squad if he didn’t perform well in the upcoming tournament.
With his back to the wall, Bernstein shot a 73 in the first round and 74 in the second round, which put him in 22nd place for the tournament. As Baughan walked around the course those two days he could see the effect Bernstein’s play had on the other Cornell golfers.
“Pressure and golf don’t go hand in hand,” Baughan said. “When Chad plays well, it takes that pressure off the rest of the team. Everyone was asking me, ‘How’s Chad doing? How’s Chad doing?’ They were all rooting for him and when they heard he was playing well, it helped them to play well too.”
Archived article by Lance Polivy
Sun Staff Writer