March 15, 2011

For Golf Team, Unity Counts

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To the members of the Cornell golf team, there is one goal that trumps all others — winning an Ivy League championship. Such a feat has never been conquered before, but this year team members and coaches feel that the right pieces are in place to win it all.

Since head coach Matt Baughan took over in 2000, the Red has slowly moved up the ranks, nearly snagging championship bragging rights in 2005. Cornell’s ascension as a team over the last decade can be attributed to not only raw skill, but also to senior leadership that has fostered close relationships among team members.

“We have five seniors on the team and you can’t always say that. This is a very special group,” Baughan said.

“When we were freshmen we looked up to [the senior tri-captains],” added current senior tri-captain Dan Bosse. “Now as seniors, we have tried to emulate that model.”

The team has come to rely on the leadership of seniors to add more than just an experienced perspective. More importantly, the seniors have taken on the role of mentor for the younger members of the squad. The seniors’ tutelage has created a familial atmosphere on the team.

“In my experience the seniors brought it all together. After completing my first half season I feel like I have been part of the team for years,” said freshman Zack Bosse.

Over the past decade, it has been the commitment of the seniors to the team’s cohesion and success off the golf course that has driven the Red to new heights. Most of the members of the golf team are also brothers in the same social fraternity.

When the current seniors on the team were freshmen, all three senior captains were brothers of that same fraternity. Headed by Robbie Fritz ’08, who led the Red to a second-place finish in the Ivy League championships in 2005, the seniors mentored then freshmen Matt Jaye, Dan Bosse and Larry Heymont, all of whom are now tri-captains on the 2010-11 team.

“At the end of our road, younger guys come and look up to you to show them the ropes. It is a nice progression of shifting roles,” Bosse said.

Now as a new spring season approaches, three of the five freshmen on the team are pledging that same fraternity.

The team also gets closer as it travels to Orlando, Fla. for a week to refurbish its skills in advance of the regular season.

“Living with your teammates for a week forms a bond. We all enjoy each other’s company. Also, friendly competition within the team pushes us all to get better,” Jaye explained.

Overall the team’s experienced leadership and skill set makes the Red real competitors for this year’s Ivy League Championship, according to the head coach. Coming off a Top-10 finish at the Classic at Shelter Harbor, the team appears to have the potential to make a historic run.

“Freshman Max Kohler stepped up and played quite well and senior [Matt Jaye] has shown that he is one of the best players in the league, if not the Northeast,” Baughan said.

According to Baughan, the entire team is determined to make this the year that Cornell brings home its first Ivy League championship since the tournament was established in 1975.

“I’m optimistic. I think we have the guys in place not only to compete, but to win,” he said.

Original Author: Ben Schneid