Emerging from its winter hiatus, the Cornell men’s golf team will open its spring season in the upcoming Towson Spring Invitational starting this Saturday.
The Red will look to build upon a successful fall season where the team placed in the top three of each of its invitationals. Momentum will also be especially important as Cornell continues its push for an Ivy League title.
“Coming off of a strong fall season, we want to keep that momentum going all the way to the Ivies,” said sophomore Tianyi Jack Cen. “We need to focus on giving it our best efforts in every tournament, every round, down to every shot [and] we hope [that] we can achieve something incredible this year.”
Despite not being able to compete nor practice outside during the winter period, the team continued to prepare for its upcoming competitions by utilizing its indoor recreational center.
“We’ve been meeting with our coach on a weekly or biweekly basis,” said senior captain Luke Graboyes. “We just practicing in the facility … working out, and getting stronger, which has been instrumental in helping us get ready.”
In particular, the team has taken a special focus to strength and conditioning.
“This year … our strength and conditioning has improved a lot,” Graboyes added. “Our strength coach has been more consistent with us and just keeping track of our records and all. We’re just the best we’ve ever been in that department.”
Through emphasizing strength and conditioning, the Red hopes not only to maintain current strengths, but also improve upon areas just as swing distance and control.
“I’ve never really worked out for golf before, but our strength trainer has really helped me become more flexible and stronger,” said freshman Jack Casler. “It’s definitely helped me gain more distance and control over my game.”
In addition to practicing within the facility, several members of the Red have also flown to Florida in order to gain experience under conditions closer to those during the season.
“Because it’s very different playing 18 outside rather than practicing indoors, a teammate and I traveled to Florida to … prep for the season,” Casler said. “A couple of the other guys have also flown down to Florida periodically, so that’s one way we’ve been getting into shape for the season.”
The upcoming invitational will represent the first time in six years since the Red last competed on the Towson golf course.
“Our coach has seen the course in the past, but as a senior I have not played [there],” Graboyes said. “I do think it’s a good warm-up for the year because it’s not too difficult or too long. We haven’t hit a golf ball outside in a while and this course will be a good way to get back into that.”
As with all tournaments, Cornell has prepared for the Towson invitational by researching the course on Google Maps. And while the upcoming invitational does not appear to be very demanding, the Red has taken special attention to some tight shots which may prove to be problematic.
“There are some very tight holes — probably four or five of them — with trees very tight on the side,” Graboyes said. “That’s probably going to the biggest challenge for us this weekend.”
Other factors which the Red will focus on are the weather and foreign course layout.
“We always face weather challenges in the spring, but [since] the course is on the water and [because] it’ll be cold and windy, it may be especially bad,” Casler said. “The unfamiliarity of how to hit shots, how the greens are shaped, and the slope will also be other challenges.”
The Red’s traveling squad this weekend will consist of Graboyes, Cen, junior Michael Graboyes — Luke’s brother — and freshman Michael May. Casler will round out the roster, replacing junior Christopher Troy, who is currently recovering from a knee injury.
Cornell will participate in the two-day Towson Invitational from Saturday, March 25 to Sunday, March 26.