When New Haven rain and the challenging Yale Golf Course are involved, it may be better to change the phrase to home-field disadvantage.
With weather conditions making the course more difficult, the women’s golf team placed third out of 11 teams at the Yale Intercollegiate this weekend. The reigning Ivy League champion Elis shot 308 on Sunday, a day when rain poured down on a number of the holes. Adding Saturday’s score of 312 to the total put the Bulldogs at 620, which dropped them behind Princeton and Harvard, who finished first and second, respectively.
Several team members said they were disappointed with the team’s finish, especially given the way the Elis have beaten the Crimson and the Tigers in the recent past.
“We are definitely not happy with third [place],” Natasha Spackey ’09 said. “Both Princeton and Harvard stepped it up this year, so we are now looking at the new standings as a team. We didn’t play to our potential this weekend, but we will hopefully keep working and perform better.”
Spackey said high scores in the 80s for individuals were not characteristic of the team and unfortunate because the team was hosting the tournament. Since the Yale course has few holes where players can birdie, competitors need to focus and avoid big number scores. But with torrential rains for part of the tourney, avoiding bogeys was not that easy to do.
Captain Cindy Shin ’07 had an especially challenging experience on the eighth hole during the downpour. Despite trying to compensate with her swing, she still pulled her five iron to the left and sent the ball into the weeds. It only got worse after that, when Shin could not find the ball and had to shoot over again. This time the ball went into a deep bunker, which she struggled to get out of. She finally got the ball on the fairway, chipped it onto the green, and 1-putted it in. But at that point, she had scored a quadruple bogey.
“I blew up [on that hole],” Shin said. “Without that hole, I might have had a chance. I tried really hard.”
But Shin said it was a good learning experience for her because she learned how to use a better strategy and stick to it on the course.
In addition to their individual struggles, the Elis also faced two teams who were on top of their games. The Tigers have long been a rival for the Bulldogs in the annual race for the Ivy title, but the Cantabs were more of a surprise this weekend. On Saturday, the Elis were not paired up with the two squads, but competed with them during the final round of play, when Spackey said she was able to observe what the two opponents did well.
“The people I played with were very consistent and strong players,” she said. “Both Princeton and Harvard have strong freshmen coming in and they kept strong sophomores and juniors. They got lots of pars.”
Spackey was Yale’s number one for the event. Tied for fourth place, Spackey accumulated a two-round score of 150 over the weekend. The Yale Intercollegiate was Spackey’s first official event of the year, though she competed individually in the Nittany Lion Invitational at Penn State the weekend before.
Spackey said she was happy that she put on a strong performance, but added that her individual performance was not completely satisfying given what the team did.
“I was really excited to play well, especially on my home course,” she said. “I finally got my game back into gear. It was a lot better than at Penn State.”
Shin also won distinctions for the Elis with her performance, even with the struggles she had on Sunday. Shin’s ninth-place finish this weekend was the third time in a row that she has finished within in the top ten at a tournament. Shin has also been one of the Elis’ most consistent golfers and finished with a 154. The Bulldogs squad was rounded out with Ellie Brophy ’08 (157), Taylor Lee ’10 (159), and Lindsay Hong ’08 (163).
Despite the frustrations from this weekend, the team seems ready to do the necessary work in order to climb higher within the Ancient Eight.
“Competition is great, and we look positively at it and try our best,” Shin said. “We know what we need to work on. We will do our best to try to bring ourselves back to be able to compete at [Harvard and Princeton’s] level and even surpass them.”