Pictured: Harvard Golf at The Golf Channel – Michael Breed’s show “The Fix”
Travel & Faldo Golf Institute – Saturday,
By Katie Sylvan ‘13
On Friday afternoon, the Harvard Women’s Golf Team began its journey to Orlando, Florida, where it would spend its Spring Break. While the seniors were absent and on their way to play Augusta National, the underclassmen were given a taste of next year’s Meeptatorship (referring to rising senior and team leader, Mia Kabasakalis, aka Meep). After landing safely in Tampa, we took the one-hour drive to our house in Orlando, where we would be staying for the week. Jane and Katie were the lottery winners of the night, and had the privilege of staying in rooms adorned with Disney princesses and Mickey Mouse, respectively. Once situated, we all went to bed, tired after a long day of traveling and ready to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for the next day’s practice.
We left to practice at 10:30 the next morning, stopping at IHOP on the way for a quick breakfast (Chloe was thrilled to discover that IHOP does, in fact, serve oatmeal). Arriving at the Faldo Institute, the team got to work. After a long winter, it was fun and refreshing to finally be practicing outdoors, and we were able to put in a lot of work to sharpen our games before the upcoming spring season. A few heated putting contests got us back into the competitive spirit, and we enjoyed being able to work as a team and practice together once more. At around six, we finished practicing and headed over to the Publix grocery store in order to stock up on food for the week. After successfully flooding our kitchen, we made some dinner, surfed some channels, and headed off to bed, getting a good night sleep before our first full round of golf the next morning.
Black Diamond Ranch – Sunday, March 14
By Jane Lee ‘12
On Sunday, both the women’s and men’s teams headed to Lecanto, Florida to play an afternoon round on the beautiful Quarry Course at Black Diamond Ranch. For the women, it was the first round of eighteen since the end of the fall season, and all team members were eager to be back outside. The day was sunny and warm—a welcome respite from the cold and wet weather in Cambridge.
The Quarry Course proved to be a challenging test for the two teams as we faced gusty winds in addition to a formidable layout that centered around an old stone quarry. But despite the difficulty posed by several of the holes, each one was beautifully designed and very enjoyable to play. The most memorable stretch of holes was Number Fourteen through Number Seventeen. These holes, which wrap around quarry cliffs at varying elevations, were breathtakingly spectacular and frequently the backdrop to impromptu photographs.
It was quite a privilege to have the chance to play at a club as renowned as Black Diamond Ranch, which is consistently ranked as one of the top one hundred courses in America. Playing the Quarry Course was most definitely a unique and challenging experience not to be missed. Thank you to our member host, Ed Westfall, and Head Golf Professional Lynn Janson for helping us to gain access to such a wonderful course.
Faldo Institute, Grand Pines & The Golf Channel
– Monday, March 15
By Chloe Altchek ‘13
On Monday, we had a great early morning practice session at the Faldo institute to build on our work over the winter months. We then crossed the street to Grand Pines where we grabbed a quick lunch and enjoyed a few putting contests before teeing off. As one of the pros at the course kept repeating, they “really turned up the wind for us.” However, we were privileged to some great pump-up music from one of the Disney Resort restaurants across one of the water hazards to motivate us through the tough conditions. Further, the baby alligators that lined the ponds gave us extra incentive to stay out of the water. All in all, we had a great time and really enjoyed the beautiful course.
We rushed off the course to get to the Golf Channel headquarters where we were given an insider’s view into the inner workings of the station. Thanks to the help and generosity of Larry Kahn ’83, we were lucky enough to be on set for Michael Breed’s show “The Golf Fix.” We were sorry to learn that we just missed Annika Sorenstam who had been there earlier filming for the show. The enthusiastic Breed spoke about tempo and gave us a few drills to get Ernie’s rhythm. Although we didn’t get to see Annika live, we did get to watch her segment in which she gave some great advice on the mental game. Her three main points were: one, everyone gets nervous, accept it and learn to channel it; two, remind yourself that you’ve done this a million times; three, stick to your routine. We were also given a peek into the control room where we saw the complicated process of how the show! is made and run.
Following our great visit, we were joined by Mr. Kahn and for a fun and festive dinner. Bodies tired and bellies full, we headed home to rest up after our great day.
Interlachen – Tuesday, March 16
By Mia Kabasakalis ‘11
On Tuesday, the men and women's teams played Interlachen Country Club, hosted by the men’s team captain Danny Mayer.
The practice facilities were excellent and all team members were excited to be playing at a teammates homes course. The mood brightened even more after a delicious buffet lunch. After eating quite a bit more than their fill, the girls teed off. The course was in great shape and had an interesting layout, with sneaky hazards that waited for unsuspecting golf balls.
Freshman Katie Sylvan hit the long drive on hole 10 and senior Claire Sheldon stuck her approach on 11 to 3 feet for closest to the pin. Our other freshman, Chloe Altchek, holed out from 110 yards on the 12th hole for a tin cup-style finish, after unfortunately hitting into the water 3 times.
The team topped off their rounds with some practicing and then headed to the Mayers' house for a barbeque. Dr. and Mrs. Mayer were wonderful hosts. The night was marked with lots of food, ping pong, and playing with the Mayers’ dog Millie. At the end of the night, Fred Schernecker, a member of the basketball team during his time at Harvard, was challenged to a friendly game by Danny Mayer - for a second it looked like Danny would come out on top but Fred quickly proved his basketball skills were still intact and won the game.
A special thanks to Dr. and Mrs. Mayer for hosting at Interlachen and having us all to dinner at their house.
Mountain Lake – Wednesday, March 17
By Sarah Harvey ‘10
The morning was a bit damp, but the members of the Harvard golf team happily hopped into their carts, pulled out their umbrellas, and embarked on a day of challenging golf at the beautiful Mountain Lakes Golf Course in Lake Wales, Florida. Arriving shortly after 9:00 am to get in some practice putts and a few swings at the range, the first group was off number one by 10. The front nine of the 1916 Seth Raynor design proved to be interesting, with difficult pin placements and speedy greens testing the skills of the golfers. In particular, the swale in the green of number five (a biairritz green similar to #9 at Yale) offered many players a full swing with a putter to get from the front of the green to the back pin of the long par three.
At the turn, golfers consumed any assortment of delicious ginger cookies, snacks, and hot or cold sandwiches--so good no one seemed capable of resisting. Unfortunately, the full bellies of the players couldn't slow down the greens. By late morning the greens were even quicker, as the clouds had gotten a chance to pass over the golf course and the sun had dried the morning's rain from the greens. Fast greens aside, the back nine offered beautiful views of the golf course's namesake: a gorgeous lake filling the valleys which surround the 18th fairway, a view which perhaps eased the pain that any three putts had inflicted. All in all, Mountain Lake allowed the team to get back in the groove of playing on quicker greens and prepared the women's team for their match against the University of Central Florida the following day.
Match v UCF at Red Tail – Thursday, March 18
By Claire Sheldon ‘10
On Thursday, the Women’s Team played its first tournament round of the spring season in a dual match against The University of Central Florida at Red Tail Golf Club. Even though the structure of the match was somewhat informal, we did our best to create normal tournament conditions to help us get back in the rhythm of playing a tournament round. Like every other aspect golf, a pre-tournament warm-up routine can become unfamiliar during the long winter break, so it was important that we each practiced how to mentally and physically prepare for a tournament round. Our match against UCF was the perfect opportunity.
Claire Sheldon ‘10, Mia Kabasakalis ‘11, Jane Lee ‘12, Christine Cho ‘12, and Katie Sylvan ‘13 competed for the team, while Sarah Harvey ‘10 and Chloe Altchek ‘13 played as individuals. The unusually cold and windy weather made the already-tricky and unfamiliar 6,200-yard golf course even more challenging, but all team members showed exceptional perseverance and ability to stay positive throughout the round. Freshman Katie Sylvan led the team with a one-over par 73, while Sophomores Christine Cho and Jane Lee each shot 76. Jane added a highlight to her round when she holed out from 145 yards for a three on the par-five 12th hole – the first time she’d ever holed out from the fairway! Together the team shot 303 to beat UCF by 11 shots. The team’s strong performance early in the season is a result of the hard work put in during the off-season in the simulator and weight room! , and provides great confidence as the team continues to prepare for the rest of the spring season.
We would like to thank Harvard alum Dave Albertson who helped to connect us with UCF during this trip as well as his help on our previous trip to the Orlando area.
Royal St. Cloud – Friday, March 19
By Christine Cho ‘12
On Friday, the team headed to Royal St. Cloud Golf Links for an early morning practice round. Some of the girls decided to play a full round of 18 holes, while others chose to play 9 and use the course’s practice facilities to work on their games.
Emulating the links style courses of the British Isles, St. Cloud played relatively flat with fast and unpredictable greens. The course featured beautiful scenery and plenty of wildlife, including an alligator sighting on a par 3. The team members used the venue to continue to work on their games and keep their skills sharp. After the round and practice, most of the team used the rest of the day to relax and take a break from the continuous rounds of play leading up to the previous day’s match.
In the evening, the team, joined by coaches Kevin Rhoads and Fred Schernecker, rounded out the day with a brief outing for some refreshing ice cream.