Golf teams start strong in new era
By Blaze Joel, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, September 18, 2012
The Dartmouth men’s and women’s golf teams returned to the course over the weekend, marking the beginning of a new era for each team. While the women jumped out to a good start in the new Alex Kirk-coaching era with a fourth-place finish at the Dartmouth Invitational at Hanover Country Club, while the men began the post-Peter Williamson ’12 era with a strong fifth-place showing at The McLaughlin at Bethpage’s Red Course on Long Island
The Dartmouth women were led by Jane Lee ’15, who finished fifth overall with a score of five-under. Sarah Knapp ’14 finished tied for 15th with a score of 14-over-par. Savannah Grice ’15 also finished tied for 15th, but her score did not count, as she had not qualified in the match as part of Dartmouth’s second team.
“Having such a deep team is really helpful because everyone battles to make the team each week,” Emily Hyman ’13 said. “Anyone can travel and make the team for any match.”
Both of Dartmouth’s women’s teams showed improvement from day one to day two and were at a natural advantage, according to Hyman. Lee shaved off five strokes in her second round, posting an even-par 71 on the second day.
“We always have a home-course advantage because Hanover Country Club has a lot of quirks and special shots,” Hyman said. “We’re more comfortable at home.”
The Big Green women finished third among Ivy League teams behind first-place Yale University and third-place Brown University. Boston University and Siena College rounded out the top five in the 12-team field.
Hyman said she does not believe that the tournament is a perfect indicator of the rest of the season, pointing to next week’s tournament at Yale as a better “short-run indicator” of how the team stacks up in the Ivy League.
The tournament marked the coaching debut of Kirk, who took over the reins this summer for the women’s team. Kirk previously served as the head pro at Hanover Country Club since December 2005.
“He was a major help to us,” Hyman said. “He was always visible on the course, helping and encouraging us to take it one shot at a time. He really helped our mental games.”
The Big Green men traveled to Bethpage, N.Y., and played on one of the sister courses of the notoriously difficult Bethpage Black of U.S. Open fame.
“They were still taking down the grandstands from the tournament there recently,” captain James Pleat ’13 said. “You got the feel you were playing in a huge tournament, which makes it really cool.”
After a slow start from the Dartmouth men, they entered the second round in 10th place. The team improved by 10 shots between the two rounds, pacing them to their fifth-place finish.
“We got used to the course,” Pleat said. “Usually when you’re playing 36 holes in a day, you get better from the first to the second round.”
Dartmouth was tied for fifth out of 16 teams with a total team score of 22-over-par. Auburn University ran away with the tournament, shooting 10-under-par and beating second-place Louisville University by 11 strokes.
The Big Green finished ahead of all other Ivy League schools at the tournament — Princeton University, Harvard University and Columbia University — a good sign for the spring Ivy League season.
“We hope this was an indicator of things to come,” Pleat said. “Obviously it’s early in the fall and the Ivy Championship isn’t until the spring, and we have to deal with the winter. We proved we’re one of the best teams in the league, even without Pete.”
The depth of the team was on display in New York over the weekend. Charlie Cai ’16 lit up the scoreboard to the tune of a one-under-par score in the tournament, good for tied for fourth overall. Pleat tied for 15th place with an aggregate score of four-over-par. Charlie Edler ’15 cracked the top 40 as well with a score of eight-over-par.
Cai said he surprised himself with his performance in his first collegiate golf match.
“I came in without any really big expectations,” he said. “I just wanted to focus and let the score take care of itself.”
This weekend, the Dartmouth men will travel to Birmingham, Ala., to compete in the Shoal Creek Invitational, while the women will travel to New Haven, Conn., to tee it up in the Yale Invitational.