Rutgers carries momentum into fall season
With the foundations for success in place, the Rutgers men’s golf team looks to continue its climb toward the top of the Big Ten Conference in the fall portion of its 2015 season.
Despite the understandable criticism, the Scarlet Knights had some good showings at tournaments this past spring. The golfers finished in fourth place at the Princeton Invitational with a score of 590 on April 12 and earned third place at the Rutherford Invitational six days later by posting a 585 team total.
The highlight of the Knights’ spring was their trip to the Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Washington, for the Redhawk Invitational on April 6-7. The course was also the home of the 2015 United States Open Championship, a Professional Golf Association major tournament in June.
The team had the privilege of competing on the course a little over two months before Jordan Spieth was crowned the 2015 U.S. Open Champion. Many of the professionals complained about how difficult a challenge Chambers Bay presented.
But when Rutgers teed off in Washington, it let its play do the talking.
The Knights picked up a 10th place finish by putting up a 917 score as a team. Golfing on such a tough and prestigious course like Chambers Bay provided an excellent challenge for the team.
“It was a great experience because you get to test your game from tough, tough conditions,” said sophomore Toks Pedro on golfing at Chambers Bay as a freshman. “It was a great experience, all in all. I think I learned from that week because right after that week in my last few tournaments of the year, I had some good finishes. So, that week gave me a lot to learn and it was great to test yourself on a U.S. Open golf course and that really points out your weaknesses and strengths.”
It is essential that the team brings the consistency it had in the spring into tournaments this fall.
“It definitely is going to be important,” said sophomore Matt Holuta. “We felt like we made some improvements with our games coming into this year and it seems like people are starting to get into form, so hopefully we can keep moving with that progress and go right into a good fall.”
Moving forward into the summer the golfers are still hard at work in order to prepare to return to competition in September. Working out and practicing during the offseason is crucial because the golfers are not constricted by time — they have countless hours to spend working on all the aspects of the game.
“In season, it’s just really hard to make major game improvements,” said head coach Rob Shutte. “We can make small game improvements, we can learn from each other, we can tweak, we can get better at little things, but not in a big way where you have the number of hours you have in the summer time. We need to log 350 to 700 hours this summer to make some of those improvements and adjustments.”
Shutte wants all of his players to try to better their games in all areas.
“For almost all of our guys, its improvement in every category,” he said. “Whether it’s trying to get the proximity to the hole or hit shots and get shots two feet closer on average … we got guys that can hit all of the shots. It’s really just a summer of developing more consistency and eliminating some of those mistakes that will pop up. We really just need to put the hours in.”
Pedro said he needs his golf game to be balanced and is putting the time in to get it that way.
“Every single part of my golf game to me is important,” the second-year golfer said. “Putting, chipping, and long game — everything. I’ve definitely worked hard to have a balanced game so I don’t have a weakness. In a few tournaments last year, putting and short game were kind of my weakness and I’m trying to work on them as much as possible to try and get it to the point that it matches my long game or even better.”
Many people believe that golfers are poor athletes and that to play the game, physical fitness is not entirely necessary.
But this is a huge misconception — most players spend a numerous hours each day in the weight room. It’s important to be in shape because the stronger a golfer is, the further he can drive the golf ball.
Holuta has been hitting the weights hard during the summer in hopes of putting on muscle to perform better on the course.
“I’ve just been working really hard,” he said. “Been lifting a lot of weights and trying to eat as much as I can. I’m a smaller person, I’m kind of skinny, so I’ve just been trying to build some muscle and hopefully gain a little distance and get better for this coming season.”
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