The Garnet Men’s Golf team returns to action next week, as they embark on a trip down to Sea Island, Georgia, where they will play their annual Spring Break season kick-off tournament. They began practice this week and already see promise for the upcoming season.
“The spring season started on Monday. We went to the driving range and hit some golf balls,” Max Katz-Balmes ’20, a freshman member of the team said.
Golf season means warm weather is coming, and Katz-Balmes is excited about finally getting outside to practice.
“It’s been a rough winter being cooped up in the Mullan Tennis Center, where we can practice indoors. I’m excited to finally get back out there and play some golf again,” Katz-Balmes said.
Drew Langan ’17 agreed, and thought the first practice went well.
“Personally, I feel that my personal game is the best it has been at this point in the year than it has in the previous three years,” Langan said. “From what I’ve seen, the rest of the team seems to be playing at a higher level than past opening practices as well.”
Like Swarthmore’s other spring sports, Men’s Golf will be participating in a team travel trip over spring break. Unlike most other sports, Golf’s first competition will be during the trip. They will be playing at a world-class course in Sea Island, Georgia that has hosted numerous professional golfers including Davis Love III, Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson.
At the tournament, the Swarthmore team will not compete against conference foes, so the team will look to use the tournament to get back into competition form. They also have a two week gap between spring break and their first season tournament, so they will have more time to work before their season fully kicks into gear.
Langan thinks the mental side of the game will be key for the team in the upcoming season.
“In golf, you’re really playing against par and your own scores. We have a lot of potential this year, so we need to find a better level of consistency than in the past,” Langan said.
Langan is correct when he talks about the team’s potential. In the fall, the team set a school record for lowest round score and Nick DiMaio ’19 set the school record for lowest individual score. The team also returns Vamsi Damerla ’19, who was the Centennial Conference Rookie of the Year last season. All of the starting five from last year will return, and there is a talented freshman class to help fill out the depth of the team. All of this talent is anchored by the leadership of Langan and Michael Chen ’17.
“Drew and Mike are stand-up gentlemen. They are very organized and have helped mentor the younger golfers well. They also have been helpful in learning to balance their academics with our athletics,” Katz-Balmes said.
Going forward, the team has two big tournaments before they reach the Centennial Conference Championship. The McDaniel Invitational and the Hershey Cup will both feature high-level competition against conference foes, and the McDaniel Invitational will be held at the same course as the Conference Championship. Both events will be barometers for team performance in advance of the championship, and will be crucial preparation for the team’s ultimate goal for the year.
“My personal goal along with most of my teammates is to keep my scoring average in the 70s, and doing so will help us achieve our team goal of winning a conference championship,” Langan said.
The team led after the first day of the Conference Championship tournament last year, and has only improved their squad since then. If the team plays well and continues to focus, we may see another Conference Championship banner added to the rafters in Tarble Pavilion.