The shortest holes in golf turned out to be the toughest for the men’s golf team this weekend, amid otherwise solid play.
The Bulldogs hosted the Yale Men’s Spring Open on their home golf course last weekend, finishing in eighth place out of 27 teams in the field. The Elis were in 13th after the first day but improved their score eight strokes on the second day to finish at 594 for the tournament. Harvard won the open with a score of 585.
Colby Moore ’09 led the Bulldogs, shooting four-over on the weekend to place third individually.
Going into the tournament, the Elis were confident that they were going to bounce back from their rusty post-spring break performance the previous weekend at the Lacrosse Homes Collegiate Invitational, where they finished 14th overall out of 19 teams.
“Even though we didn’t play that well last week, we still felt like we were the best team at this tournament,” Moore said.
That confidence was aided by the home-course advantage the team enjoyed at the Yale Golf Course this weekend, long known by its challenging reputation.
That expected advantage never materialized though, as the greens throughout the course were still not in proper condition for the tournament after the long winter.
“The greens were bumpy so there was an added degree of luck to the holes,” Joe Hernandez ’08 explained.
While this poor condition was the same for all players in the tournament, the change neutralized the Bulldogs’ built-in advantage of knowing how the greens would break on different holes, which comes from their many practice rounds on the course.
“The greens leveled the playing field,” Moore said. “If they were in better shape, we would have placed higher.”
Beyond the shoddy green condition, the main detractor to the Elis last weekend proved to be poor play on par-3’s that plagued the team and most of the field throughout the weekend. The par-3 ninth hole playing at almost a bogey average for the field, with the par-3 13th not far behind.
Nicknamed Biarritz, the 235-yard ninth is guarded in the front by a water hazard and on the left and right by three bunkers as the terraced green falls down toward the back.
“Number nine year after year plays as the toughest hole of the tournament,” Moore said. “The wind swirls around the hole, making close ball placement difficult.”
Moore said he finished five over par on the ninth and thirteenth holes combined for the weekend, and estimated that the ninth hole alone cost the team five or six strokes on Saturday.
While hitting greens on par-3s is always paramount, Hernandez pointed to problems putting on those bumpy greens for many of the high scores.
“Putting 30 feet and out, we were having trouble getting close to the hole, leading to lots of puts for everyone,” Hernandez said.
The high scores on par-3s obscured otherwise great play on other holes for the Bulldogs. As a team, the Elis finished with 25 birdies, the second highest total in the field. This effort was led by Moore and Tom McCarthy, who finished tied for third with seven birdies apiece.
Looking ahead, the Elis travel to Providence, R.I. next weekend to compete in the New England Division I Championship, which is just more practice before the Ivy League Championship the following weekend and will likely not affect Yale’s chances of getting into the NCAA tournament.
“We are going to work on our short games a lot in practice this week,” Taylor Hakes ’09 said. “Most of the game last weekend came down to putting, so we are going to try to improve that for this upcoming tournament.”
Overall, the Bulldogs remain confident despite their struggles since spring break and look forward to finishing the season strong.
“Winning the Ivies is our goal so we can go on to the NCAA tournament [from there],” Moore explained. “We are planning on three more tournaments [instead of two].”