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Senior Mark Haghani tees off on the eleventh hole during the Cornell/Temple Fall Invitational at Plymouth Meeting on Sept. 18. Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

At this past weekend’s Cornell/Temple Fall Invitational, Mark Haghani finished three-over-par, enough to tie for 12th place among the 84 golfers participating. Yet for Haghani, impressive results are nothing new. 

Last season, Haghani led or tied for the lead among Penn golf in many important categories, including tournament rounds played (24) and stroke average (72.3). In the nine tournaments he played last year, Haghani was the low Penn player in eight of them. This success on the green was enough for a first team All-Ivy selection after he tied for second place at Ivy Championships. Off the course, Haghani excelled as well, earning academic All-Ivy recognition. 

Although Haghani broke out as a star Quaker golfer last year, his love for the game began much earlier. In his early childhood in London, Haghani began with soccer. But at the age of 12, he discovered golf. 

“My dad’s cousin got me into golf, [and] bought me my first set,” he said. “And I kind of got hooked.” 

For Haghani, there were many things about golf that attracted him to the sport. High among them is his desire to compete and improve. 

“There’s a self-improvement loop golfers talk about being addicted to … and that’s definitely something that I also have,” he noted. “And I also just love competing. I love having that pressure.” 

In high school, Haghani thrived in frequent competition. In 2015 and 2017, he won the Wyoming amateur state championship, and in 2016, he represented his state in the Junior America’s Cup. At the IMG World Junior Golf Championship Qualifier in 2018, Haghani emerged victorious from his age group. 

When it came time to choose where to continue his golf career, Haghani reflected on many factors that ultimately contributed to his decision. And many of those aspects pointed toward why Penn was the place for him. Key among them was a sense of fellowship with his teammates, the high level of competition, and Penn’s academics. 

Once he arrived at Penn, it didn’t take long for Haghani to make his impact. During his freshman season, in 2018-19, Haghani participated in six of the Quakers’ 10 tournaments and played 17 tournament rounds. Those tournaments included a tie for Penn's low player at the Georgetown Intercollegiate. 

In the four years since then, Haghani has improved, and he’s noticed it himself. “Every year, I’ve improved by about one to two shots,” he noted. 

Haghani attributes this improvement to three main factors: his swing, putting, and course management. Regarding the final component, he specified knowing which club to use and choosing where to place shots as he approaches the green. 

Specifically referring to the Temple/Cornell Invitational, which was played at the 1912 Club in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., Haghani noted that since “the number 13 pin is all the way in the back,” he “kind of laid off” with his tee shot despite the hole being a “drivable par four.”

As Haghani’s skills on the course grew, so did his importance off the green. Sophomore John Richardson spoke to Haghani’s abilities as a leader of the team. 

“He’s a great, great teammate … [and] the perfect leader for this team,” said Richardson. “I don’t know where the team would be without Mark, to be honest.”

Haghani and Richardson go back several years, ever since the latter was 12 or 13, and the two played at the same club in London. When it came time for Richardson to come to Penn, he said that he “spoke to [Haghani] a lot about what Penn was like.”

On Sunday, a new page in their history was written, as Richardson and Haghani tied for the Penn low score and played key roles in the Quakers’ third-place finish. There is more golf to be played by the Red and Blue, as Haghani aims toward his best form in his collegiate career.