No more challenges, no more roadblocks, no more masks outdoors. It’s a darn good time to be a golfer for Fairfield University.
Last year, due to the spread of COVID-19 on campus, sports were stopped, started, and put on hold throughout each season. Now, however, with widespread vaccination rates around the country and the prospect of a truly normal season, the men’s and women’s golf teams have one less hoop to jump through.
Both the men’s and women’s teams, spearheaded by head coach Doug Holub, can focus on playing golf, being mentally fit and being physically in-shape.
After last season’s limited competition and travel against other schools, Fairfield golf resorted to dividing their roster in half and playing against each other. However, as the new year progressed, changes were able to be seen.
“Once they came back from winter break, the University and athletic department were much more prepared for testing,” Holub explained.
With COVID-19 testing ramped up, the team was cleared for competition in the spring. This brought a unique, unseen element to the game, as the weather played a large role in how each match went. “We played in weather elements we hadn’t played in in the past; it was a cold spring and we played through very cold weather,” Holub said.
Progressing towards the season start date of Sept. 1, 2021, Coach Holub wanted to make sure that his student-athletes kept a club in their hands. Although playing in specific summer events was not required of the team, many players elected to continue forth with their momentum after the Fairfield season’s close.
Fast forward to today, where the golf programs have seen immense scheduling successes around practices and class schedules. By scheduling more tee times at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Conn., athletes have more time to work on their game while also being able to work around their courses. “Instead of everybody going off and playing golf, on Sundays a certain number of student athletes will be working on their short games. Some will be in the studio working on their swings, and others will be playing golf with each other,” Holub shared.
On Tuesday, Sept. 21, the men’s and women’s teams split off to play in their own respective events; the men’s team played in the Hartford Hawks Invitational, and the women’s team partook in the Boston College Intercollegiate.
Although the women’s team placed fourteenth out of 15 total teams, they have the chance to assess their game and quickly bounce back in their Hartford Hawks Invitational. They competed against teams like Yale University, Boston College, and Boston University, according to Coach Holub.
In the men’s team’s second event of the season, specific players stood out for the Stags who placed tenth overall out of 18 participating schools. Aside from their five starters, they were able to bring three individuals who all played impressively.
The most notable performance, however, came from Patrick Ryan ‘22, who placed seventeenth overall out of 114 golfers in attendance. Ryan posted an impressive 69, which falls just three strokes below par for the course.
Holub sees the talent from the younger players’ performances as a testament to the recruiting process of last year. Holub mentioned “By doing Zoom calls and interviewing their high school coaches, we were able to pick student athletes who are going to fit in by not only being good players, but by being a good fit for the personalities in our program.”
Coach Holub specifically cited Zachary Maloy ‘25 and Colin Summers ‘25 as key players to watch for the future. On the women’s side, however, the recruitment process was slow during the height of COVID-19, with the program not being able to recruit many players.
Upcoming on the schedule, the golf teams will go their separate ways again, with the men heading to Yale University’s course for the MacDonald Cup, and the women heading up to Bloomfield, Conn. for their Hartford Hawks Invitational.
Yale’s tournament is no walk in the park; Coach Holub said “It’s very old fashioned, it’s been around for many, many years, it has a lot of undulation, and on Saturday we play 36 holes.” This event for the team is much more of a marathon as opposed to a sprint. “Not only is it a battle of skills, but it’s a battle of will, strength, and determination,” Holub said regarding the MacDonald Cup.
The team walks this particular course, which is a large difference from playing with a golf cart and having the chance to sit down between holes. They will be going up against schools like Yale, Fordham University, Dartmouth College, Harvard College and even our in-state competitor, the University of Hartford.
Luckily for both teams, however, there is an over-one-week long break in between these invitationals and the next ones, meaning both the men’s team and women’s team have a chance to take a breath after a long weekend of play and reflect on what went well.
The teams this year have their sights set extremely high, especially after the men’s team led the conference championship until the final day, where a possible comeback chance was unfortunately rained out.
After the season, however, Holub won Coach of the Year for Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Golf. “Their reaction to me winning was more satisfying [than winning the conference championship] because they were happier for me than I was for me,” Holub explained. This moment showed him that his players were not just a group of individuals playing golf together, but a team of amazing people that shared similar goals.
Both the men’s and women’s teams are currently nearing the halfway points of their seasons, and will be gearing up to enter the conference championship against their fellow MAAC competitors later on in the season. Coach Holub and the Stags have an extremely bright future ahead of them, with their team chemistry clicking and their golf skills at their best.