After a long winter of training and a surprise coaching change, this spring break, all the questions will finally be answered. Penn men’s golf will finally return to tournament play with a trip to South Carolina, while the women will fly down to Florida for practice.
During its fall season, the men turned in what junior Carter Thompson described as a “mixed bag” of results.
“We had a lot of rounds that showed our potential as a team," he said, "but I think we were all disappointed that we didn’t turn them into better finishes."
The Quakers’ standout performance of the first semester came in the Quechee Club Collegiate Challenge at Dartmouth, where the men placed 4th out of a field of 15, including two top-ten individual performances from sophomore Josh Goldenberg and senior Matt Kern.
On January 31st, it was announced that Bob Heintz resigned from his head coaching position to take on the role of assistant coach at Duke University. A few days later, 2010 College graduate Mike Blodgett accepted the role of interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
One would expect a unexpected change of this nature to throw the team’s preparation off, but according to Thompson, the team remains undeterred, and perhaps as focused as ever.
“The coaching change has really energized everybody," Thompson said. "Coach Blodgett has really motivated us and challenged us to work hard leading up to our spring break trip and the team really responded to that."
The Quakers hope to capitalize on that hard work next week, as the men will participate in the Colleton River Collegiate tournament in what marks Blodgett's Penn debut. Over the course of two days, the team will play 54 holes. Last year’s field sported some strong teams, such as the University of Memphis, College of Charleston, and Michigan State University, the tournament’s hosts.
The team expects a lot out of themselves after a somewhat disappointing first semester.
“In the past, we would be looking to knock the rust off at the first tournament of the season and just looking to get some experience playing again," Thompson said. "But this year, we want to have a high finish and prove to ourselves that we can compete with teams from big conferences."
On the women’s side, the team put in strong performances in all four of its fall tournaments, including two third-place finishes. Senior Isabella Rahm and freshman Christina Park were the standout golfers of the semester, averaging an impressive 75.6 and 76.1 over ten rounds, respectively. With her second-place finish in the Princeton Invitational, Park also put in the team’s best individual performance of the season.
The women’s spring season does not truly get started until late March, when they will take a trip to Virginia to compete in the Kingsmill Intercollegiate tournament. In the meantime, the team is taking a training trip down to Florida over break, where it will be greeted with dramatically less erratic weather.
It has been a while and much has happened since either the Penn men’s or women’s golf team has played competitively, but their training has not slowed a bit, and their desire to succeed has only intensified.
“Everyone has been out at the course taking advantage of the great weather or putting in work in our indoor facility," Thompson stated. "Everyone is hungry and motivated to improve."
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