September 18, 2007

CU golf leaders guide the team to St. Bonaventure

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With hearts pounding, hands shaking, and adrenaline flowing, the golf team will return to action at the St. Bonaventure Invitational on September 23rd.

Great leadership is often hard to put into place on sports teams. The golfers are coming back from a disappointing close to last year’s season, finishing out in last place in last April’s Ivy League Championships. While they went in with high hopes for a possible victory over ivy competitors like Yale and Dartmouth, performances did not live up to the hype as less than half of the field shot under 80 on the last day. By bringing in new talent, like freshman recruit Matt Jaye, Cornell hopes to take the next step as CU upperclassmen leaders initiate this year’s new class of golfers.

“This is definitely a big step from high school,” Jaye says. “Practicing with these high-quality golfers brings your play up to the next level.”

Robbie Fritz had glimpses of great play as he finished 13th overall in last year’s Ivy League Championships, and took the top spot for all of the Cornell golf team. Nonetheless, Fritz’s performance wasn’t enough to lift the CU golfers out of their funk during the tournament.

With a strong core of returning seniors including Bret Perry, Austin Lord, Chad Bernstein, and Robbie Fritz, the golf team looks ahead to greater challenges in the upcoming season. Head Coach Matt Baughan is entering his sixth year for the Big Red, and has seen constant improvements in the team and their competitive place in the Ivy League throughout his tenure. Leadership and experience are expected to boost the CU playing field and get them over the hump for this year.

“Coach Baughnan is definitely a great coach, but he’s also a great person,” says Jaye. “He actually had the players over the other night for a spaghetti dinner. It was a good team-bonding experience.”

Three new freshmen recruits will join the squad this year. Dan Bosse, Larry Heymont, and Matt Jaye will don their clubs for Cornell at the opening on the 23rd. The freshmen trust that they will make great strides in their golfing skills by interaction with the upperclassmen leaders on the CU golf team.

“Great leaders lead by example,” Jaye says. “They go the extra mile to help you out, even when things are tough.”

CU golf hopes to use the lessons learned from last season to push them over the top for this year. Knowing that they are in for an emotional ride in tournaments to come, using what they have experienced will help to guide them to some wins.

“It’s a small team, so there’s a very low power distance,” Jaye remarks when asked about leaders on the CU golf team. “The stream of information is tight between the captains and the players, and they are just part of the team.”

In a sports media world that shows SportsCenter images of Tiger Woods fist pumps and sunken chip shots, the golfers hope to capture some of this excitement, and perhaps some redemption.