The end is near for Penn golf.
Not in a bad way, of course. The men's and women's teams are competing from this Friday to Sunday in the Ivy League Championships, with the men competing in-state and the women heading to the Metedeconk National Golf Club in Jackson Township, N.J. The tournaments will be contested over 54 holes of stroke play and will conclude the Quakers’ season, which began months ago in late September.
The men's team's improvement under first-year coach Jason Calhoun has been well-documented, as that veteran squad seeks to finish the job of jumping from fifth to first in only one season.
But for the Penn women, this weekend’s event presents an equally golden opportunity to finish off the year on a good note. Coach Mark Anderson is optimistic about the Quakers’ chances.
“I think that the team that we’re bringing to Ivies certainly has the potential to do well there,” he said. “They’ve got to be on their games and play well, but the potential is certainly there.”
Unfortunately, it has been difficult for the team to even play golf this spring. The Red and Blue have not been able to practice much outside due to poor weather. Unlike the men’s team, they did not have a tournament last weekend to prepare for Ivies.
“It’s been tough because we haven’t really been able to get outside, but all of the other Ivy League teams are in the same boat just with the weather,” Anderson said. “The spring we’ve been having in the Northeast has not been great, so we’re all in the same situation. I wish we had more time to prepare but it is what it is.”
These challenges may have contributed to somewhat disappointing performances from the Quakers as of late. In their last three tournaments, they went 0-2 in the Match Madness event at Princeton, finished seventh place out of fifteen teams and eighth out of eleven at the William & Mary Intercollegiate and Harvard Invitational, respectively.
“It’s really hard to get into a rhythm when you can’t play consistently. Normally we’re outside four days a week,” Anderson said. “We have an indoor facility and that has helped, but it’s just not the same.”
The competition for the women's first Ivy League title since 2010 will be tough. Among the teams the Quakers will face are Princeton, the defending Ivy champion, Columbia, which defeated Penn in Match Madness, and Harvard, which emerged victorious in its own invitational two weekends ago.
However, despite the stiff opposition and grand magnitude of the upcoming event, Penn’s strategy will largely remain constant.
“It is Ivies and it is the way you’re measured in the Ivy League, but we approach it the same way that we do all of our tournaments,” Anderson said.
That approach is primarily focused on what happens before the first tee shot is struck on Friday.
“Tournaments aren’t won on tournament day. They’re won on the practice tee, and everything you do leading up to that is going to pay off,” Anderson said. “We try to just keep it the same because it is another tournament. Whether it’s the Ivy League Championship or not, you prepare the same way.”
And that preparation might help the Quakers give their season a sweet ending.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.