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  • Christos Stathopoulos

Swinging Towards Success: Anticipating a Bright Future for the Cornell Golf

Todd Slabaugh (Photo of Jackson Debusschere ‘25)

This past October, Cornell Golf finished their Fall 2023 season, and this season was a perfect indication of the positive direction that the team is heading in. It creates an optimistic attitude going into the second season of the school year, which will take place in Spring 2024 and includes the Ivy League Championship.

The season consisted of a total of 5 events, spanning 6 weeks with the team’s best finish being 5th of 11 at the Cornell Fall Invitationals in Watchung, New Jersey. Part of the optimism stems from the youth of this year’s golf team. Consisting of 5 juniors, 1 sophomore, and 2 freshmen, the team will not lose any players going into next season and year. This allows for the team to further grow, maintain continuity, and develop chemistry with each other to compete the best they can.

Compared to other Division 1 sports, golf is unique: it is an individual sport but still includes team aspects. It is played on different courses that each present its own new challenges and difficulties. In order to prepare for these different challenges, golfers are constantly practicing and striving for improvement.

Practices are individual, as each golfer has to determine how they can improve their game and work on an aspect that involves hitting balls in the range, putting, or working on short game. However, the team’s weightlifting sessions are one of the important steps to conditioning and preparation that rely on team bonding. Players often schedule to go to the gym together in order to maintain team chemistry and motivate each other. It’s vital to develop team chemistry because although each player has individual scores and ranking in tournaments those scores contribute to the overall result of the team.

When it comes to preparing to play on different courses it can be challenging. For tournaments, a practice round is held on Fridays before the tournament, which usually occurs on Saturday and Sunday, in order to allow the golfers to grow accustomed to the layout and grass of the grounds on which they will play.

Freshman golfer Viktor Stöllinger ’27 explained, “A lot of the prep happens the day before. We go to the course, look at it, play it, and take notes about each hole in something called a yardage book.”

A yardage book is a handbook used by golfers when playing a round and typically contains information about distances, hazards, and green complexes for every hole on the course. With their notes from the practice round, the golfers devise a plan to play the course for the remainder of the tournament so that they can perform at their best to deliver great scores and contribute to the team.

“We are only getting started, and it only improves from here. The next few years are gonna be big,” highlighted Ströllinger. The two freshmen on the team, Stöllinger and Tyler Debusschere ’27, really proved themselves in their first seasons and helped set great expectations going into next season.

Both freshmen had strong results throughout the season. Stöllinger was the leading golfer for Cornell on multiple occasions, finishing 13th in his debut at Colgate, tied for 9th at the Colombia Autumn Invitational, and 31st at Bucknell. Meanwhile, Debusschere finished in a tie for 12th at Columbia and an impressive 9th in the Cornell Invitational. Other golfers on Cornell also had strong and consistent results throughout the season. This season saw multiple top 20 finishes from junior golfers Jackson Debusschere ’25, Tyler Zimmer ’25, and Matt Simon ’25.

Todd Slabaugh (Photo of Viktor Stöllinger ‘27)

However, it is not only the freshmen who are excited going into next season. Jackson Debusschere noted, “We are obviously a very young team so there is a lot of room for improvement. I feel like the team chemistry was at an all-time best this year. Our goal going into the spring season is to improve, make a good run, and compete in the Ivy league Championship this year.”

It is evident that the whole team is on the same page going into the next season. In order to prepare for this upcoming ambitious season, players are currently training in the offseason. “During the offseason we transition to more intense lifts; the number one goal of the offseason is to gain distance and flexibility. We have an indoor facility where we look to practice on a daily basis and spend as much time there as possible,” explained the elder Debusschere.

Cornell Golf has found ample inspiration from the 2023 Fall season to establish a strong foundation and eagerly anticipate the upcoming season. With the young team working hard through the offseason and determined to improve together, it leaves a lot to be excited about for the future. So, be sure to keep up with Cornell Golf during their spring season and support the team in their efforts to compete at the Ivy League championships.


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