The Ivy League tournament did not end the way the golf team had hoped, but there was still room for optimism, and with good reason. The top three finishes on the team were all from underclassman — talent that head coach Matt Baughan has brought in over the last two years.
The Red finished in eighth place, posting a team-total score of 982. After the first 18 holes, Cornell was tied for fifth place, and was just two shots out of fourth. A devastating set of mistakes early on Sunday morning, however, spelled the end of their efforts for success.
Of the five student athletes that Cornell sent to play at Metedeconk National Golf Course, only senior Justin Gatwood had any experience. The other four members of the team — sophomore Kevin Scelfo and freshmen John Patinella, Andy Sliwa, and Andrew Turker — also struggled with the level of difficulty, weather, and long days. Sliwa fared the best, finishing tied for 19th with a score of 244. Patinella and Turker tied for 27th (248), and Gatwood and Scelfo tied for 33rd (250).
"We gained a lot of experience on a really difficult course," said Baughan, "Going into that golf course, the lack of experience will hurt you. It doesn’t matter what age you are."
After playing 27 relatively solid holes on Saturday, Cornell took the field on a beautiful Sunday morning and could not get it going during their first nine holes.
"There are not a lot of birdies out there," said Baughan, "It’s tough to get it into your head that [18 pars] will put you in contention. There aren’t any excuses, but it was a great learning experience. If we go back next year, we will be that much more prepared. The guys will be fully prepared."
Both the coach and players are confident that Cornell will fare better in years to come. The team is dominated by underclassmen whom have shown consistently throughout the spring season that they will bring a new level of competitiveness to Cornell men’s golf.
In the coming summer months, team members will be focused on improving their individual games. Baughan does not hand out strict workouts or set practices, but many of the players will be competing in tournaments around the U.S., as well as participating in summer golf camps. Some will even play in U.S. Open qualifier events as others take to the green in national amateur tournaments.
"The best way for these guys to prepare [for next year] is for them to play as much tournament golf as possible," said Baughan. "Some of these guys have already played in pretty big events. It’s a matter of getting comfortable on the tee and swinging away."
When their season begins again next year, the golfers will once again don their Red jerseys, grab their tees and clubs, and start up right where they left off — by swinging away.
"Part of the game of golf is that you have to play it one shot at a time," explained Baughan. "If you hit a poor shot, you have to forget about it."
Archived article by S.W. Falk