The 2018–19 season for Tufts golf was an eventful one, filled with strong showings and pivotal performances from many corners of the roster. Last season, a thrilling come-from-behind performance on the second day of qualifiers gave the squad the necessary edge to vault past Williams into fourth place in the NESCAC. That finish landed the Jumbos their second consecutive berth in the NESCAC championship. However, a fourth-place finish and an early exit ultimately left the squad hungry for more. Tufts will look to build on its impressive past season this weekend when it hits the course on Sept. 7 and 8 for the Detrick Invitational at the Indian Hill Country Club in Newington, Conn.
Fall 2019 has the potential to be a large step forward for the team. Returning the majority of its core after graduating two seniors, many of the big contributors from last season are hoping to take their games to the next level. A considerable number of returning players now possess qualifier and championship experience. Such familiarity will be invaluable as the team gears up for another run, as explained by Tufts coach George Pendergast.
“Experience and depth are the two words that define this team,” Pendergast said. “We have several really strong upperclassmen that have played in a lot of tournaments.”
Before the season kicks off this weekend, the focus is on roster construction, with a whopping 17 players trying out this week.
“For now, we are focusing on adding depth to our roster with a good incoming [first-year] class,” senior Ethan Sorkin said.
In a game where the competition can be defined by mere inches, every step a player takes can have a huge impact. That leads into a huge part of the team’s focus for the coming year, where Pendergast emphasizes the use of real courses as the primary way he likes to train his team.
“We try to get on the golf course and get used to getting the ball in the hole,” Pendergast said.
In terms of specific dates circled on the calendar, sophomore Travis Clauson weighed in on a particular date drawing excitement.
“The league qualifier is what everyone definitely has their eyes set on,” Clauson said. “It’ll be at our home course, where we believe we can win.”
Tufts’ home course, located at Sandy Burr Country Club in Wayland, Mass., bodes particularly well for the Jumbos. Knowing a course inside and out can be a fantastic advantage for a team, where players can become familiar with the clubs they choose for particular spots and the paths they like to take to the green.
“This is the first time in history that Tufts has had the opportunity [to host the NESCAC qualifiers],” Pendergast said. “Sandy Burr is a bit quirky, with some tricky and odd holes that we are really used to, while other teams may have only one practice round before the match.”
The excitement for the qualifiers is shared by the entirety of the team, and everyone involved will look to bring their A-game. If the Jumbos manage to qualify, it will be their third NESCAC championship berth in a row, a considerable feat for any team. Beyond a berth in the championship, Clauson pointed out some of the team’s even larger aspirations.
“I think the team feels that this will be the best chance to win the championship that the program has ever had,” Clauson said.
A combination of depth, discipline, experience and chemistry look to characterize an exciting fall for the Jumbos that they hope will lead to even greater things. In the meantime, however, the team’s sights are set on the coming weekend, where they aim to make a splash in their first game action after a long summer and exciting preseason in Los Angeles. The Jumbos begin their run to the qualifiers — and beyond — this Saturday at 11 a.m.