Courtesy of Steve Musco

Coming off a successful fall campaign, the Yale men’s golf team now turns its attention toward the spring season. Next weekend, the Bulldogs will be traveling for the first time in 2019 to Florida and will compete in another event over spring break at the Furman Intercollegiate in Greenville, South Carolina.

Earlier in autumn, the Elis won the 15-team Cornell Invitational, finished second at the Macdonald Cup and resoundingly defeated both Harvard and Princeton in the Harvard-Yale-Princeton Match. Despite its success, the team is not resting on its laurels; rather, Yale is lasered in on the upcoming second half of the season. Due to frigid weather, the team has been limited to practicing inside but will finally get out of the gray and catch some rays.

“Many of us will meet up in Vero Beach to finally be able to play in good weather and on the course,” Perry Xin ’21 said. “Most of the team has been practicing hard over winter break, but with weather restrictions we’ve only practiced indoors but luckily received a new TrackMan that allows us to play virtual golf.”

The Elis’ trip through the Southeast will allow the team to “warm up,” both figuratively and literally. A stiff slate of nonconference opponents will provide valuable experience for the Bulldogs to help them prepare for later tournaments against their Ivy rivals.

The Bulldog golfers are confident due to their familiarity with these schools and some of the courses. In golf, playing a course repeatedly gives a tremendous advantage, as players are better able to navigate the holes’ complexities, something the team will look to demonstrate at the Furman Intercollegiate, the Princeton Invitational and the Yale Spring Invitational after playing in all these events a season ago.

“We are looking to continue our domination in the Ivy League while also looking to grab a few more wins against top teams at some of our upcoming events in Florida and South Carolina,” Jordan Weitz ’20 said. “We are really looking forward to playing Furman in a few weeks. We played last year and now having another year of play at that course under our belts, we are super excited.”

The team is captained by James Nicholas ’19, who looks to finish his Yale career as one of the best golfers in program history. The No. 1 player on the team, Nicholas has won many amateur events as well as collegiate ones over the duration of his career, including victories at the Borsodi Student Championship and Macdonald Cup earlier this fall.

Nicholas currently boasts the top-scoring average in the entire nation. The team will look to him to lead them through another spring season in hopes of capturing a second straight Ivy League Championship. Despite this being Nicholas’ final season, he remains focused on the team’s overall performance in addition to his own individual success.

“It’s always been a goal of mine to qualify for Nationals,” Nicholas said. “This team has the players to do it. All 11 guys have the potential to win at the highest level. We just have to put the work in and dedicate ourselves this spring. That being said, it’s going to be important to stay on top of our work so we can focus on our events come April.”

Additionally, 2018 Ivy League medalist Eoin Leonard ’19 will look to go out on top in the Ancient Eight once again. Leonard was a key contributor in the fall as the team’s No. 2 player and picked up the individual championship at the Cornell Invitational. Like Nicholas, Leonard is focused on maximizing both the team’s effort and results as he wraps up his final season of college golf.

The team’s future also looks bright, with the Elis featuring a stellar young core including Paul Stankey ’21, Xin, Sean Yi ’21 and Teddy Zinsner ’21. Zinsner is the star of the Bulldogs’ young nucleus. Some highlights of his fall season included a fifth-place finish at the Old Town Club Collegiate Invitational and a fourth-place finish at The Doc Gimmler.

“The team’s goal is to continue our solid play from last semester and make sure we are challenging to win tournaments each week,” said Leonard. “I’m most excited about trying to win more trophies with this team and show how good we really are as a team, as we’ve got a lot of potential and we’re excited to show it.”

The Bulldogs will open the spring slate at the El Campeón golf course in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, for the Mission Inn Spring Spectacular on March 16–17. Two days later, Yale travels to Ohoopee Match Club in Cobbtown, Georgia, for a dual match before playing in the Furman Intercollegiate on March 23–24.

Reese Koppel | reese.koppel@yale.edu