In the 2010-’11 season, golf captain Jeffrey Hatten ’12 placed fourth at the Ivy League Championship, was selected for first team All-Ivy, and achieved three straight top-10 finishes. The captain, who swings lefty but putts righty, averaged a score of 76.4 over eight tournaments and shot a low round of 71 in the 2010-’11 season. The Bulldogs will kick off their spring season with the Yale Spring Opener on Saturday.
The News spoke with Hatten to find out about the dynamics of the golf team, his personal experiences on the team, and his pursuits outside of golf.
Q How has the golf team evolved since your freshman year?
A Definitely the main development over my four years was getting to the point when we won the [Ivy League] championship last year. Other than that, it hasn’t evolved too much. We’ve had a lot of great guys coming in and out.
Q How would you describe the dynamic of the team?
A Golf is certainly different from a lot of other sports, as it’s an individual sport. That being said, we all get along really well and root for each other. Our coach always helps us if he sees something going on with our swings. He’s there to guide us.
Q What are the benefits of being on the Yale golf team, as opposed to other schools’ golf teams?
A The most obvious benefit is that we have the number one college course in the country. The course is ranked in the top 15 in the country, as well, which is a huge plus. The course is a really nice, relaxing property, and a good practice facility for us. For me, another huge benefit is that they team is a great group of guys that gets along really well, which provides the environment for us all to improve.
Q Who are your main rivals this year, and how has your relationship with them evolved?
A Dartmouth is playing really well this season, as are Penn and Harvard. Harvard is probably more one of our biggest rivals, just because of the Yale-Harvard rivalry. There hasn’t been one dominant powerhouse in the Ivy League, just because everyone has their ups and downs, good seasons and bad seasons.
Q How do you incorporate the mental aspect of golf into your practices?
A We can try to simulate play conditions, and definitely do a lot of friendly matches within the team, especially between upperclassmen and underclassmen. This helps us feel the pressure that you might feel during a typical match.
Q Describe a typical golf practice for your team.
A We get to the course, which is about three miles from campus, at 3 p.m. It is pretty much up to us what we want to work on. We typically hit balls for half an hour to an hour, and then have the option to go out and play on the course, put on the putting green, or chip on the chipping green. We also have an indoor golf center in the Payne Whitney Gymnasium on the second floor. There is a simulator where you can essentially hit into the screen, and a camera that measures the speed of the ball. It is pretty close to an accurate portrayal of how your shot looks on the course, and a very helpful tool when the weather is too bad to play outside.
Q What is your most memorable match in your career at Yale, and why?
A My most memorable matches definitely occurred during Ivies last year in Galloway, N.J. near Atlantic City. It was a three-day tournament, and after Friday we were one match ahead, but Saturday we were one back. On Sunday we ended up winning. Coming off the 18th green and seeing everyone smiling at our win was the best moment in my Yale golf career.
Q What role will golf play in your life after Yale?
A In the long term, it will definitely be a big part. A lot of people, especially later in life, pick up the game of golf, as it’s such a great lifelong sport. I hope it will be helpful in business. Golf is something I definitely want to come back to after I work, through more amateur competitions and tournaments.
Q What other pursuits have shaped your Yale experience aside from golf?
A Golf takes up a lot of time, so there hasn’t really been too much else. However, the outreach the Yale golf team does has been extremely rewarding. Every Monday we bring in kids from a school in New Haven and teach them golf. I’ve been participating in the program since my sophomore or freshman year, and it’s become a mentoring program. I love getting to share everything golf has to offer.
Q What are your post-graduation plans?
A I will be working in investment banking in Boston starting this summer, and taking some time off from golf next year.