Fresh off an Ivy League individual golf championship and newly announced team captain title, senior golfer Luke Graboyes has a lot to be happy about.
Graboyes finished last season hot, holding off Dartmouth’s Ian Kelsey by one stroke to secure the championship. His finished landed him in the NCAA Kohler Regionals and he became the first Cornellian to win the Ivy championship since Jim Bird in 1986.
“[A captain should] lead by example, show up on time and put the hard work in that it takes to compete and to win,” said head coach Matt Baughan. “Luke does that better quite better than anybody I’ve seen my time here at Cornell. That speaks volumes upon him as a golfer and off the course.”
Although he is still hungry to repeat as Ivy champion, Graboyes said that having one title under his belt alleviates some pressure that might have followed him into his senior year.
“To get that accomplishment off your list already makes senior year a lot easier,” Graboyes said. “I think it makes me the kid to beat. Like any professional golfer talking about winning their first major, getting a nice win under your belt like that really, at every level, changes your perception.”
Both Baughan and Graboyes are excited about the roster for the upcoming season, which will welcome freshmen Mike May and Jack Casler to replace recently graduated captains Brandon Eng and Alex Bauman.
“We have a really good freshman in May who will fill in the spot of senior captain Eng from last year,” Baughan said. “He is a highly accomplished junior golfer coming in who will step right in and elevate our team to the next level.”
In terms of this weekend, the team is sitting confident going into Saturday’s matchup with Colgate. Both Colgate’s and Cornell’s courses were designed by Cornellian Robert Trent Jones, an advantage that will give the team a familiar feel in the first match.
Last year, the team opened their season at Colgate’s course and finished second of 14 at the invitational, but it hope this year to improve upon last year’s strong opening after a summer of focused training.
“It’s a very similar feel, lots of trees and it’s a comfortable feeling so that adds to our vibes at the tournament,” Graboyes said. “Coming off the summer, our games are in great shape and we’ll be ready to go.”
Colgate has been kind to the Red on the individual level, too, as Luke’s brother, junior Mike Graboyes, is the defending medalist for Saturday’s invitational. The team also feels that they are the strongest that they have been in recent history, especially given that the top three scorers from the 2015-16 are all returning.
“We have our strongest team in a while, for sure,” Graboyes said.
“We’re a much deeper team than we’ve ever been, definitely with the returning brothers Mike [Graboyes] and Luke,” Baughan agreed. “We’re extremely strong from the top of our lineup to our fifth man. That’s something we haven’t really had ever here at Cornell. I’m extremely excited about that.”
Even with this confidence, Graboyes acknowledged that there is still work to be done to finish the job this season.
“Practice is probably the biggest weakness of our team,” Graboyes said. “I’m guilty of it too, I think everyone is guilty of it to an extent. It’s easy to get caught up in practicing things you are already good at, but you have to get used to being uncomfortable.”
Above all, Graboyes was excited to get back into the swing of things and begin Cornell golf’s campaign this Saturday. However, as this is his last season, a hint of nostalgia will undoubtedly creep in.
“It feels like yesterday that I was walking from North campus to do all these things for the first time and go through tryouts,” Graboyes said.