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In late September, Syracuse’s club golf team took first place in its first tournament since the pandemic began. Although it barely scraped enough players to enter a tournament last year, the team automatically qualified for the National Championship after their win this year.
“It was incredible,” Derek Goldberg, the treasurer of the team, said.
Over the two days at the National Collegiate Club Golf Association Tournament, Syracuse shot a cumulative score of 798 between its five players. The Orange faced Buffalo, RIT, SUNY Cortland and SUNY-ESF, and they won by 32 strokes. Goldberg joined the team last year, and he said he was surprised by the increased level of talent this year’s team has. SU is now preparing for the National Championship at Palmetto Dunes in Hilton Head, South Carolina, next spring.
Over the past four years, the club has shown a lot of growth, the club’s president Anthony Tartaglione said. Tartaglione has been with the team since he was a freshman in 2018 when there were only about 10 people on the team. Now there are 25 players.Advertisement
In addition to making the national championship for the first time in program history, they had never had a table at either the club team fair or the student involvement fair, and this year they had a table at both. Being present at both events grew the team by several players, Tartaglione said.
In 2019, the team was still small, and about half of the playing team — the eight players who attend and compete in tournaments — were seniors. The rest of the team attended practices and prepared for the opportunity to compete, but there weren’t many team events — like practices and team dinners — in 2019. The culture of the team “wasn’t strong” then, Vice President Matthew Kamimoto said.
But now, the team practices every weekend with tournaments on a regular basis.
With the uptick in practices after 2019, the team grew, Tartaglione said. But the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, changing the setup of tournament play. Although the eight-man team normally competes in pairs of twos against other schools, social distancing restrictions forced the team to split up, and each player could only compete individually.
“(The pandemic) destroyed the culture,” Tartaglione said, as it became far more difficult for the team to have events like it did before.
Players were only allowed to compete in tournaments within 90 miles of their college, so the team could only attend one tournament last year compared to the three per semester that it usually attended.
Last year the team couldn’t compete in the NCCGA tournaments, but it was able to compete in the City Tour — a golf league run by the Professional Golfers’ Association. The City Tour gave the team an opportunity to get some normalcy back by playing together again.
Syracuse also went to the Whistling Straits Wisconsin tournament after winning the City Tour tournament. It was two weeks before the Ryder Cup, and the team got to play with all the bleachers set up, making it feel like a real PGA Tour tournament, Goldberg said.
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This year, Syracuse practices every weekend at Drumlins Country Club, and through practices and events like the Drumlins Cup — where players are put into teams in a scramble — the team’s culture is slowly being rebuilt, Tartaglione said.
The tables at the club sports and student involvement fairs brought several more students to the team, Kamimoto and Tartaglione said. All three players mentioned how more people around the country watched golf because of the pandemic, which has contributed to the rising membership to the sport — 2020 saw the largest net increase in the number of new golf players nationwide in the past 17 years.
The club team is the highest level of golf play at Syracuse, and it gives students an opportunity to play the sport and competes against schools all over the upstate New York region like Buffalo, RIT, Binghamton and other schools in tournaments.
“It felt amazing being a part of something, being able to compete against some of the best competition (in the region),” Goldberg said.
Now, the team ranks 92nd nationally for collegiate club teams and will compete in the national championship in the spring. Finally returning to the course and earning an NCCGA win “felt surreal,” Goldberg said, and the growth of the team has allowed for a chance to compete in South Carolina and bring a national title back to Syracuse.
Published on October 19, 2021 at 11:21 pm
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