Relying heavily on a young group still getting used to the challenges of college golf, the men's golf team is looking to finish in the top half of the Ivy League this spring, according to Head Coach Mike Hughes.
"We finished last last year," Hughes said. "I would like to think we are upper-echelon. Fourth or higher would be a good, realistic goal."
Captain John Giannuzzi '10 said it's just a matter of playing well at the right time.
"If we play our best, there's no reason we shouldn't finish toward the top of the Ivy League," he added.
Giannuzzi and Michael Amato '11 are the only two golfers in Brown's projected top five who have competed in an Ivy Championship. The team will need consistent performances from three newcomers in order to challenge the other Ivies this season.
J. D. Ardell '13, Jack Mylott '13 and Chris Williams '13 are each expected to make an immediate impact during the short, five-week spring competition.
"We are a very young team," Hughes said. "We are starting three freshmen, and they are playing on bigger courses against better competition."
"We had a great group of kids last year and lost our three seniors who were a big part of the team," Amato said. "The dynamic has changed a lot because now we have three freshmen."
The fall proved to be an adjustment period for the underclassmen.
"I think the toughest thing was going from going from the talent level where you are at the top of your level, then you go to the bottom of your pool," Williams said.
"I think it's having to deal with other people. Instead of being just like an individual sport, it's now a team one," Ardell said. "Not only dealing with this, but you are learning to play with as much time as you have."
"The weather has added some dimension of difficulty," Mylott said. "You are playing in a higher stage than you have ever been acclimated to."
The Bears have been practicing indoors lately and probably won't be able to get outside until spring break — the same week they open their season at Arizona State on March 31.
After a fast-paced four weeks of play, both the men's and women's teams will travel to Springfield, N.J., for the Ivy League Championship. This year the tournament will be held at the world-renowned Baltusrol Golf Club. Baltusrol is one of the country's premiere private golf clubs and has hosted a record number of 15 USGA Championships.
"It's probably the largest course we've played on," Amato said. "It's really gonna show. You're not gonna be able to win it unless you're the best."
Williams said he has used video games to gain an extra edge on the competition.
"By playing Baltustrol on the Wii and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010, we're going to be able to see how our swings and our ball play before we even go onto the course," he said.
With a young team that lacks much collegiate golf experience, the Bears will be looking for any extra advantage they can get. And despite a difficult fall, they remain optimistic for the spring season.
"I think we're in a great position this year," Amato said. "With all five of us, we'll definitely have a chance."