Consistency is Key
Standout high school athletes often struggle with the transition to college sports. They go from being the best on their team to an average player whose talents are more comparable to those of their collegiate teammates.
However, this situation is not the case for Michael May, or Mike for short. Born in Auburn, New York, he is a freshman in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences studying Information Science. The young phenom earned a spot on the travel team for Cornell Men’s Golf and is doing exceptionally well in terms of adjusting.
The difference between levels of golf is that in high school, May would play in matches of only nine holes after school on weekdays. In college, he spends about three hours every day for practice and four-five more hours on weekends. At Cornell, he said, the competition intensity is higher and more fierce. The team is also much closer than in high school because they constantly travel, room, and hang out together.
May is honored to be an important component of the travel team, and, because he is a freshman, he feels pressured to always perform at a high level in order to keep up with his veteran peers. This stress originally gave May some uncertainty heading into the fall season, but he now feels more comfortable in his skills and ability to compete with his teammates.
Due to his increased confidence, May has continually finished within the top five of the team in matches this year. His consistency is extremely important to the group’s success, as some older players lack dependability. But, with the veterans’ skills paired with May’s reliability, the team is more competitive and persistent as a whole.
May scored the lowest round in the team’s fall season with a 68 and also recorded one round of 69, along with just one other teammate, in a different tournament. These consistently good scores propel the team to great success.
For example, after May shot the second round 68, the Big Red finished second at the Alex Lagowitz Memorial Invitational back in September. His final round of 69 at the Connecticut Cup a few weeks ago propelled the squad to third place. With scores this low, May’s confidence boosted. This was the last tournament of the fall season, allowing him to end on a strong note and create momentum heading into the spring.
May has not only made it big on the golf course, but has also formed plenty of strong relationships during this experience. The veteran players constantly offer advice on golf and getting through college both academically and socially. This bond that May and the other players have built together provides amazing team chemistry. The Cornell players always practice together, study together, work out together, and just hang out together.
Therefore, the team is more comparable to a brotherhood due to the amount of time they spend as a group and due to their level of comfort with one another. They all look out for each other and share pointers when needed. It is a great learning experience for anybody, but especially for a rising freshman like May.
The Big Red’s mentality is strong and focused to continue to succeed for the spring season. May feels that he, and the whole squad, can be a more competitive team in the Ivy League this year compared to past seasons. This prediction is in part due to improved practice facilities that are available this year. A new indoor center was just built, which includes a study room in the clubhouse that is conveniently next to the course. Cornell isn’t, and will never be, 100 percent satisfied, helping them to push each other to be better players by working even harder for next semester. Their overall long term goal is to win the Ivy League Championship, and they are continually striving to meet this objective.
The team possesses such high hopes because of everyone’s apparent hard work and dedication. All the veteran players have been practicing throughout the entire offseason and have become more consistent in their golf techniques and execution. For example, this past summer, senior captain Luke Graboyes qualified for the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship — the biggest tournament for amateurs in the country. Each member is growing stronger and their success in the fall season only proves that the group has a shot at the conference trophy.
Cornell has placed in the top three at every tournament thus far. Not coincidentally, in each last round of past tournaments this fall, the Big Red always play better and come in clutch to help secure a solid ranking.
May has been mentored by junior Mike Graboyes, brother of captain Luke. He practices with Graboyes often, and the two spend large amounts of time together. Graboyes sees potential in May and puts in time to help him acclimate to school and the golf team in the most fluid way possible.
Cornell’s biggest competitor is Harvard, as the team finished in third behind the Crimson at Dartmouth this year. Harvard brought the Ivy League title back to Cambridge last year. But, due to the results of the close match in September, the team and May are confident that they can defeat the Crimson.
May is constantly attempting to improve. He wants to work harder everyday and is searching for the perfect balance between school, golf, and a social life. May’s personal goals are to win a collegiate tournament individually, maintain a scoring average below 73, and win at least one more tournament as a team.
The Big Red won its first tournament since the 2007-08 season at the Cornell Invitational earlier this fall. The team is thrilled after emerging from a packed field, including Yale, Penn, Colgate, and Siena. In addition, the squad has averaged 12 strokes better than last year and hopes to continue with this exciting new momentum carrying them into the spring season.