Golf teams prepare for road tests
The Rutgers men’s and women’s golf teams return to action tomorrow and Sunday, competing in their respective matches. It is the first time the Scarlet Knights play at the same time since March 16, their season debut.
The men’s team plays at the Princeton Invitational in Princeton, N.J. The Knights compete in familiar territory, the closest place to home they have played all season.
Head coach Rob Shutte believes being able to play near Rutgers can benefit the team, but it can also be dangerous.
“We try to take advantage of playing near home,” Shutte said. “The Princeton course is very short and narrow. The structure gives us more opportunities to use short irons and greens in this match. But we cannot let the short course distract us from competing at a high level.”
The Knights have not played in stable conditions so far this season. Their game had to change at every match because they had to cater to whatever conditions they faced at that match, including rain, cold and heavy winds.
Rutgers participates in its home state before traveling to Orlando for the end of the season. The golfers believe playing in a familiar environment will build their confidence.
“This match will be comparable to home,” said junior John Fagan. “This has been a crucial week in practice for us. We played well in Princeton last year and had a couple of good rounds. Coach stressed playing with confidence, and playing near home will help us.”
During the course of the season, Shutte stressed the importance of improvement to the Knights. He wanted to see the golfers consciously making an effort to get better day in and day out.
“Every tournament is important to us,” Shutte said. “I like how we are getting better every week and keeping a positive outlook on the season. I see that the guys are approaching the peak of their talent.”
The Knights finished in 11th and 10th place at their last two events, respectively. They want to finish strong and give a full effort in their final two matches.
“We have become very competitive during the season,” Fagan said. “But honestly, patience is key for us. We need to settle down and let our game come to us instead of forcing it. I want us to play well and make some noise at the [Big East] Championships to close out the year.”
If Rutgers does its job, Shutte will be pleased with whatever the outcome is.
“At the end of the day, we represent Rutgers University,” he said. “When we play our last hole, teams won’t remember how we shoot, but how we act.”
The women’s team competes at the Columbia Roar-EE Invitational in Suffern, N.Y, the Knights’ first appearance on the course in nearly a month.
Both teams travel to Orlando at the end of the month for the Big East Championships, the Knights’ season finale.