Although the fairways in Ithaca are still covered with patches of snow, the Red will make a trip to Jupiter, Florida, this Thursday to tee off the spring season at the Cornell Spring Invitational.
After a strong fall season, with three top-three tournament finishes, the Red has only reached the midpoint of the 2017-18 campaign, with the ultimate goal of an Ivy Championship a mere 24 days away.
“We’re all really confident and itching to get back out to competing,” said senior three-time All-Ivy honoree Michael Graboyes. “The first few tournament rounds might be rusty for some of us, but considering the climate we’re dealing with, that is to be expected.”
These final four tournaments in the spring represent the final push for these seniors to achieve what they were brought here to do: win the Ivy league. And now, with only one final spring remaining, they sit on the 17th tee of their Cornell careers, most of the work behind them, just in need of a strong finish.
“Expect big things from us this year and we’re going to work hard and follow through with the expectations for this team,” Graboyes said.
Graboyes has played a central role for the Red since his freshman year, when he averaged a score of five over par and received All-Ivy honors.
He followed that freshman campaign with an even better sophomore stretch, posting a scoring average of 74.11 and becoming the first Cornell golfer to receive All-Ivy honors in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
After qualifying for the NCAA tournament and again receiving all-Ivy honors his junior year, he started his 2017-18 campaign hot with a second place finish at the Connecticut Cup this fall after posting a final round five under 67.
The offseason in Ithaca isn’t easy, but Graboyes and the team have been working hard on what they can given the weather conditions.
“The offseason is great for improving non-technical stuff,” he said. “Thankfully, due to great alumni support, we’ve also had an indoor facility with a simulator to practice in no matter how much snow there is outside.”
Although the simulator is helpful, many members of the team have even made the trip down south to avoid the frigid Ithaca winter to get some practice and feel back into their games.
“A bunch of us have spent time in Florida during the winter months, but the simulator helps keep our swings technically sharp while in Ithaca,” Graboyes said.
And for those who couldn’t make a trip to Florida, but wanted to still hit outside, they figured out other ways.
“Some of the guys have gone to the golf course to hit balls even when it is snowing,” said sophomore Michael May. “Freshman Charlie Dubiel was out there shoveling snow off the range so that he could hit outside last week.”
The effort aims to help the team achieve what it came close to doing last season: winning the Ivy League. After placing second last year, losing by 15 strokes to Harvard, Graboyes has the Red’s chance at redemption on his mind.
“I’m most excited for the Ivy League Championship,” he said. “Our team’s improvement over the last two or three years has been tremendous, and I believe it’s our year to go out there and take the final step and win Ivies.”
May said putting has been a team-wide focus heading into the season.
“[Head coach Matt Baughan] wanted us to stay loose and especially focus on putting,” May said. “As a team, we think we struggled with putting at the championship last year … and with some improvements by everyone we can make a run at it.”
For now, Graboyes and his teammates get a break to enjoy the Florida weather before returning home for an Ivy League matchup with Princeton on April 7.