The Tufts men’s golf team has the potential to be something special this year. With the departure of just one player, Owen Elliott (LA ’17), and two returning co-captains, seniors Aaron Corn and Taylor Nordan, the team looks like a force to be reckoned with. Although Elliott undoubtedly played a major role in the team’s success. Nonetheless, the Jumbos should be able to recover with two returning captains, who plan on bringing their proven leadership skills back to the team.
“We are looking to keep the team tight and motivated towards the goal of winning NESCACs,” Nordan said. “I try to set an example for younger kids to follow and hopefully they will work hard to accomplish what we have set out to do.”
Last year, the Jumbos had a mix of average and outstanding performances in an up-and-down fall season. They finished in the middle of the pack in a number of tournaments, with a 13th-place result out of 22 teams at the Duke Nelson Invitational and a fifth-place finish out of 10 teams at the NESCAC Qualifier. The Jumbos played their best golf in the Williams Fall Invitational and the New England Championship, arguably the most important matches of the fall season, where they earned respective finishes of third out of 18 and fourth of 20.
The fall season included some major highlights. At the Duke Nelson Invitational, then-first-year Brandon Karr registered Tufts’ first hole in one in over 25 years. Karr used a seven iron to sink his tee shot on the 18th hole, ending his round in style. Also, Elliott was named to the Academic All-NESCAC second team, his third consecutive All-Conference honor. Elliott was a mainstay in the team for the entirety of the fall season and was usually Tufts’ top scorer.
Tufts hit the ground running in the spring season, starting off with a tied first-place finish at the Hampton Inn Invite in North Dartmouth, Mass. The team carried its strong form into the Wildcat Spring Invitational, earning a third-place finish out of 17 teams. By the end of the season, some of the first-years started to fight for their spot on the tournament team. Karr and fellow then-first-year Ethan Sorkin consistently earned spots, showing promise for the 2017-18 season.
Tufts enters the 2017–18 season having graduated just one senior. The team also has a slew of experienced upperclassmen and talented sophomores with a year of college golf under their belts. Plus, with a host of highly skilled first-years arriving this year, the Jumbos continue to add to their deep roster.
Another factor that could make the difference for the Jumbos this year is the return of coach George Pendergast. Pendergast was out last season with a hip replacement, but is coming back to coach for the 2017–18 season. The combination of Pendergast and associate head coach Brian Golden leading and making decisions for the team will undoubtedly help the Jumbos achieve their goals of the season.
Not only will the team have two returning captains to add experience, the potential tournament team will likely be populated with experienced players.
“Taylor Nordan, [who] will start the season as our number-one player, and Aaron Corn are the mainstay upperclassmen,” Pendergast said. “Junior Justin Feldman and sophomores Ethan Sorkin and Brandon Karr also will contend for starting spots.”
According to Corn, the Jumbos have ambitious goals this year.
“Our biggest goal for the fall season is to qualify for the NESCAC Championship, which takes place in the spring,” Corn said. “In order to do that, we need to place among the top-four teams at the upcoming NESCAC qualifying tournament. Finishing inside the top four is something we have never accomplished in school history. We have been so close the past few years, and it would be really gratifying to help the program finally leap this hurdle.”
The Jumbos compete in the Detrick Invitational on Saturday and Sunday, and Corn has high hopes for the upcoming tournament.
“Our team had a really successful preseason, and everyone’s game looks to be trending in the right direction,” Corn said. “As a group, we believe that if we practice the right way and work hard, the desired tournament results will come. There are definitely going to be a lot of great teams at the Detrick Invitational. Trinity is one of the best teams in our conference, and the tournament is taking place at their home course, so that gives them a big advantage, but we are excited for the challenge.”