On the weekend of March 26, the Fairfield Stags golf team placed 3rd out of 22 teams at the Battle at Rum Pointe hosted by Iona College. The team shot +17 over the two days in the cold and windy weather.
When asked about his expectations going into the tournament, Coach Doug Holub said that he had “zero expectations, we knew that we were playing against a lot of MAAC teams and a lot of teams that we were rivals with. Finishing the highest of any MAAC team at a tournament that big was very satisfying.” He adds,“we hadn’t played in a couple weeks so we didn’t have too many expectations and the weather was gonna be cold and windy, but I was pleasantly surprised.”
He attributed the Stags stellar finish to the fact that “our van broke down the day before the event and it created some adversity. So when we eventually got to the golf course we were happy to be there, they really wanted to be there, they worked really hard qualifying so I think that they were excited to play”.
He then says, “I think our best attribute is that we just continue to reinforce the word ‘battle’ and realize that the conditions are tough, the competition is tough, and the course is tough and you have gotta keep battling.”
The Stags did in fact battle as they played a great first round trailing by six shots after the first day. Their second round was not as strong but they fought hard and finished just four shots short of second place.
According to Holub the Stags were led by Jason Salamino ‘22, who after his first day said to Holub, “that was the best round of golf I have played in my entire life.” He shot two under par and was only three shots off the lead after the first round.
With difficult weather to fight through, Salamino stepped up. Holub commented that Salamino “has continued to impress us, he has gotten better as he has been a senior, he blossomed last year and has continued to be arguably one of our top three players.”
Salamino finished just five strokes short of the lead in the end in a tie for eighth place overall out of the 120 players.
Along with Salamino the Stags had two other top 25 finishers, Patrick Ryan ‘22 and Colin Summers ‘25, who placed 17th and 23rd respectively. Ryan shot +4 and Summers +5 in the tournament. Both players had strong performances that helped the Stags show that they can compete with anyone.
When asked about the size of the tournament and how the experience helped him, Holub explains that “it was great, you see so many different coaching styles. You see a lot of hands on and hands off, and you try to figure out where you can be and where you don’t need to be.”
He followed up by saying “that’s the biggest thing with golf, you’re not always right on top of your players and you are never with all of them because they are in different groups. I watch a lot of how they practice and how we can pick up some tips from them.”
The Stags have a relatively young squad with four of the ten players on the team being first-years. When asked about what this is like for the team, Holub says “it’s great because they are really pushing the seniors, two of the four freshmen were at the last event and they pushed one of the seniors and one junior out.”
He continues by stating that “they all love each other and they all care about each other but they all want to beat the heck out of each other to get back in the lineup so it’s great.”
Along with commenting on the competition that the team has with each other, Holub also states that the team’s biggest strength was the fact that they are “very deep.”
“We don’t have a legitimate number one or a legitimate number ten. It changes every week based on how hard they work and their mindset.”
Holub’s takeaway from last week’s great finish was that he felt it “was a good barometer to show that we can compete for the MAAC title in April. I think that proved that we’re not the best but we are one of a couple teams,” he stated. “You could have four teams vying for the title in a month down in Florida. In a nutshell it really made us confident.”
On Saturday, April 2, and Sunday, April 3, the Stags placed first in both days of the Hartford/Wintonbury Hills Invitational.
The Stags golf team will compete again on April 10 at the Abarta Coca-Cola Collegiate Invitational in Hellertown, Pa., hoping to show another strong performance.