With the warm weather approaching and the snow dissipating, both the Fairfield men’s and women’s golf teams are eager to hit off the tee box under sunny rays. At the same time, their goal is to play some Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship-worthy golf.
In the MAAC Coaches’ Preseason Poll released in February, the men’s team was selected to finish first in the conference, while the women were nabbed to finish in fourth.
“Our expectation is to win the MAAC, and that’s our biggest goal,” said Ricky Dowling ‘15 of the men’s team. “We’re working hard, training hard, practicing hard and everyone on the team shares that one goal.”
In the fall half of their season, the men won the NEIGA (New England Intercollegiate Golf Association) Championship. They placed second and third in two other fall tournaments, and now look to enter the spring with a great amount of confidence.
Thus far, the men’s team has played two invitationals since the semester started, and performed underwhelmingly at fifth and thirteenth place.
“Those [tournaments] were more to get our feet under us,” said Dowling. “We took the positives, we didn’t shoot anything crazy low.”
Regardless, the men will look to three of their seniors to be in the driver’s seat toward the MAAC Championship: Dowling, Patrick Lynch and Steve Burak. These are three of Fairfield’s four lowest shooters, with Eric Austin ‘18 also proving instrumental to the team’s success, averaging a score of 76.
The men still have three more invitationals to play in prior to the conference tournament, all in either Connecticut or New Jersey. The weather will definitely be a factor on how well the team performs.
Nonetheless, Dowling sees no reason for anything to stand in the way of the team’s MAAC Championship quest.
“Everyone shares the belief that the team score is more important than the individual score, and that notion drives your individual scores down,” said Downing.
The men will take to the course next on April 11 and 12 at the Northeast Invitational in Baltic, Conn.
The women’s team, on the other hand, will get back at it next Wednesday at the Hartford Hawks Tournament in Bloomfield, Conn.
While they were not selected to finish as high as the men in the MAAC, they see no reason not to be crowned the champions of the conference.
“I expect us to win MAAC’s,” said Emma Ritzmann ‘15. “We met all the MAAC teams in the fall in our tournament then, so our expectation is to win the conference.”
In the fall, the women left with a first-place victory in three separate tournaments. Out of six fall invitationals, the women only finished outside the top 10 in two of them.
For the team to stay successful, there are four core players who have to play well: Ritzmann, Katie Rockwell ‘15, Olivia Brooks ‘16, and Michelle Applegate ‘16. These four lead the team in average score per round by about four, averaging 80 or 81 each.
Thus far in the semester, the women’s team has played in two tournaments, finishing twelfth in the first one, and third in the next.
“We just wanted to get out and play on grass again,” said Ritzmann. “We didn’t do as well as we should have, just because we didn’t have time to practice very much. We wanted to see where our games were at, find our weaknesses and have them improved upon before conference play.”
According to Ritzmann, the team’s success will mainly come from the chemistry and camaraderie that they have developed. They are made up of six upperclassmen, and just one freshman. Having spent years with each other will prove vital on the course, even though golf is an individual sport. The women will go to each other with tips and advice about how to improve their game, and reassure each other after a rough day.
Now, both the men’s and women’s golf teams will be preparing for their upcoming tournaments, but they are most excited for the MAAC Tournament which will begin on April 24.