Approaching almost a year and a half since the Ithaca College golf team’s last tournament, junior golfer Caitlin McGrinder said she is looking forward to getting back out on the course.
“It was really disappointing to hear in the fall that we weren’t going to have [a season],” McGrinder said. “We are happy to finally get back out there after losing the fall and spring competition seasons.”
Head coach Keith Batson said the team tried to stay connected online with Zoom meetings and virtual lessons during its months apart. Players also practiced on their own at courses in their hometowns. Batson is looking forward to getting back out on the course so he can coach the team for competition but said that his style of coaching will have to change due to social distancing guidelines. He said athletes will rely on more verbal coaching than hands-on work.
“When we are on the course, it is not going to look that different, given that golf is a socially distant sport by nature,” Batson said. “It is just leading up to it — the travel and practice.”
McGrinder said the team is now practicing in simulators in the Athletics and Events Center in addition to lifting twice a week. McGrinder said that due to COVID-19, there can only be one player in the simulator at a time with Batson rather than the whole team. The team consists of six Bombers: junior Katherine Chan, sophomore Mary Gersec, first-year graduate student Peyton Greco, sophomore Cristea Park, senior Sophia Israel and McGrinder.
The team will be led by Israel, who competed in six tournaments in the fall portion of the 2019–20 season. She finished her junior season with an 18-hole average of 83.83, her lowest 18-hole round score being 77 and 36-hole round 166. Being a senior, Israel said she is relieved to have one last season of college golf.
“I am very fortunate to have this opportunity to finish out my collegiate career,” Israel said. “I want to leave everything out there. I want my teammates to know that, I want my peers and family to know that I gave it all. I want to go out with a bang. Expect me to be the best possible player I can be out there.”
With COVID-19 restrictions, the Bombers will not be doing any two-day competitions like they have in the past. They will only be competing in one-day competitions with close schools like Hobart and William Smith Colleges, SUNY Cortland and St. Lawrence University.
Israel said players will focus on improving their individual games to help the team grow better.
“We are all working individually on different things,” Israel said. “We want to continue to have low rounds, and we all have a similar goal of shooting low and hoping to place high.”
Batson said the team’s biggest strength is its leadership. Greco leads the team along with Israel and said she felt unfulfilled with how her senior season ended in the spring. During her Fall 2019 campaign, Greco scored an average of 77.83 and a low 36-hole round of 147. Greco said she is excited to continue this season.
“I felt lucky because I know there are people who didn’t get the opportunity to keep playing,” Greco said. “It is an opportunity that I really want to take advantage of. To be able to go out and play is very exciting.”
In McGrinder’s sophomore season, she competed in three tournaments, scoring an average of 87.83. She said she hopes to continue improving this season.
“I was on a good kick in starting to lower my score more, so with all of the work I did over quarantine, I’m hoping to continue that streak,” McGrinder said.
Batson said the Bombers’ main goal for the season is to get back to playing tournament-style golf. He said he also wants to see the team improve each week while continuing the momentum it created last year. The team averaged 333.25 in the 2019–20 season.
“Hopefully we can pick off where we left off because they were doing really well,” Batson said. “[We are] using the spring as a stepping stone for next fall for the younger players on the team.”