Rutgers prepares for first test of fall season
Time to get back to work.
After being away from the lush greens and fairways of the Rutgers University Golf Course during the summer months, the Rutgers men’s golf team returned to its facilities Monday.
With the time away from campus, the Scarlet Knights were able to rejuvenate and recover from the lengthy spring portion of their 2015 season.
The team did not waste a second in preparing for its upcoming tournament on Sept. 11 and 12 at the Rutgers Golf Course, playing 18 holes.
The golfers were responsible for working out in the weight room and practicing the game on their own over the course of summer. Tuesday was head coach Rob Shutte’s first opportunity to see how his players progressed during that period.
Other than the scolding heat and humidity, the conditions on the course were good, allowing Shutte to properly evaluate the Knights.
“We’re gonna play a lot. We’re having our tournament here (at Rutgers) in 10 days or something, so we’re just going to stay on-site," Shutte said. "The fairways are in good shape, greens are in good shape, but it's slower because of the heat and the temperatures. But everything around it is just hard as a rock. It’s a unique situation where you’re laying the ball.”
Shutte said his assessment of the team's talent would take a couple of days.
“It’s a lot of stuff going on of just seeing where they are mentally, you know, physically and we can’t do it one day,” he said. "We can’t test ourselves unless we get out and do our sport, just get out, play a bunch of rounds, compete and settle our nerves, get back to get used to this golf course and decision making out here.”
To strengthen his golf game and further develop his skills, junior Michael Howe followed the advice of the old adage practice makes perfect.
“We just play a lot of golf,” Howe said. “Some of us work at a golf course and we just play a lot of golf. You just gotta. That’s really the only way. That’s really all we did. We work out but it’s mainly just getting the reps in on the course. It’s just playing a lot.”
Meanwhile, sophomore Jack Panagos took a different approach in his preparation during the summer.
At first glance, one could think Panagos was a football or basketball player given his large frame. The second-year golfer spent a lot of time developing his core strength and flexibility in the offseason.
“A lot of it was about stretching and things like that,” Panagos said. “I’m a tall guy and I grew a lot over a short amount of (time), so I’m a little stiff and things like that and just getting stronger, especially in the core aspect and everything. I have made a lot of strides but there’s a lot of things I can work on. I’m pretty excited to get back here and workout with all the guys.”
Shutte said he wants to hear how his players converse on the course during the first few practices.
“As well as the conversations, like what intellectual level are the conversations at with their golf swings in terms of how they matured and their thought processes too,” he said. “So, it’s just a constant question and answer type thing as well as watching.”
Shutte said he wants Howe to take the next step forward and expects consistent play from him this fall.
“Well, he’s a guy that had a lot of experience as a freshman and really as a sophomore. …You know, if he can be a good player for us, it certainly helps our chances, you know, because he’s had that experience of us having a good year. We have a lot of depth so it’s not like it has to be on him," Shutte said. "He just needs to eliminate some of the big mistakes if you want to call them that that can plague everybody. … If he can just eliminate those so he gets in the clubhouse and completes it, then that’s what we’ll be looking for.”
Howe said he has some big goals in mind for himself and his fellow teammates heading into this season. He said that qualifying for regionals as a team is one of them.
“This year, I think our goal for the team is to make it to regionals,” Howe said. “That would be great. Finish well in the Big Ten and make it to regionals. I think it’s a really good goal.”
Panagos is thinking more short term and has his sights set primarily on the Rutgers Invitational.
“This year, I definitely want to get a win at the RU Invite first thing going off,” Panagos said. “I haven’t really set any long term goals. Just go everytime and try to become like a decent starter and things like that. As a team, we definitely should try to win two or three times in the fall and try to make some noise in our conference tournament at the end of this year.”
For updates on the Rutgers men’s golf team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.