Rutgers seeks to overcome frigid northeastern weather
Overcoming adversity is never easy — and the Rutgers men’s golf team will be tested by that this weekend.
Using a makeshift lineup at the Whiting Turner Towson Invitational, the Scarlet Knights will be without Jacob Stockl. The senior won't travel with the team due to what head coach Rob Shutte called a disciplinary issue.
“Jacob Stockl — it’s unfortunate, but he’s not going to be able to travel this week because of other disciplinary reasons not injury related,” Shutte said during the team’s practice at the Rutgers Golf Course on Wednesday. “We’re probably not as strong of a lineup with Jacob being out.”
Arguably the team’s best golfer, the loss of Stockl should hinder the Knights.
But golfers such as freshman Toks Pedro can help fill the void. Toks returns to his home state of Maryland to compete in the Towson Invitational, and Shutte expects him to play a sound two rounds of golf.
“The freshman Toks Pedro is going back. He’s from Maryland, as well as Nigeria,” said Shutte. “In the fall, he wasn’t able to break out but we’re seeing his ability starting to show here. I would expect him to continue to go as well as the other freshman Mat Haluta, as well as the other guys that are going.”
The Whiting Turner Towson Invitational will be played at the Prospect Bay Country Club in Grasonville, Maryland.
The Prospect Bay Country Club features a championship quality, 18-hole golf course and state-of-the-art practice facilities. The course is known for its exceptional greens and beautiful scenery.
On one side it is surrounded by Prospect Bay and the other side, majestic farmland.
The course has two particularly popular holes, the fourth and the sixth, due to the challenging conditions they present. Shutte believes the most difficult aspect of the course will be the greens and how they play.
“The biggest challenge is going to be the greens because they haven’t grown,” he said. “Maryland has had a bad winter as well — it’s supposed to be a high of 40 degrees on Saturday. Scoring could be good depending on how they set it up, but it also could be a little bit ugly because they greens could be bumpy, so you just try to find a way to get the ball in the hole one way or the other.”
The team has been competing in tournaments in warmer climates in recent weeks. Over spring break from March 14-22, the golfers worked on their games in Florida on sun-soaked courses that were in good condition.
“So down there (in Florida), we had eight days of playing, so we worked on a lot then. After spring break, that was really where we did a lot or our work after the last tournament being able to putt and actually play," Shutte said. "Right now, this week, we’ve got a workout. We had (Indoor Practice) Bubble work yesterday, we looked at our statistics and our statistics were improving from the fall. (On Thursday, March 26) we’re playing hopefully over at Royce Brook, weather permitting, and that’ll pretty much be all the time we have to prepare.”
Due to the harsh winter and the poor weather the east coast has had lately, the course’s conditions in Maryland may not be up to par. In order to prevent the difficult conditions from affecting its golf in a negative way, the team must hit its shots with exact precision and accuracy.
“That’s going to be different from the courses in Florida that were in nice shape,” said Shutte.
The Knights should be able to play a sound tournament, but Shutte is unsure of the kind of score the team will put up due to the conditions of the course.
“Well, I don’t know numbers-wise … it’s going to be 40 degrees as a high and I don’t know how wet the course is for sure,” he said. “I just know it’s probably going to be in not that great shape because they’ve had such a rough winter ... I don’t know what scoring is going to land for the whole field.”
Rutgers will have to bring its A-game and play as a team to master the elements. If the Knights do, the ride back to Piscataway next week should be a pleasant one.
“I would expect us to compete hard and be excited for the challenge whether it’s cold, whether it’s wet and just to compete hard,” Shutte said. “Everyone has to play well for us to be good as a team, but individually there’s going to be some opportunities I think for some guys to be able to separate and have a chance to win.”
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