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Talented Freshmen Strengthen MIT Golf

By Yong-Yi Zhu

There’s an MIT golf team? One might wonder, “Where do they practice? How do they practice?” It all seems rather foreign. Actually, golf is just like any other sport. Well, it’s not quite that simple. The team practices at Leo J. Martin, a public golf course near Newton, Massachusetts. A 12-passenger van leaves for practice at 3:30 on most days. It’s a 20-minute drive to get out to the course, and since playing nine holes at Leo J. takes more than two hours, the team usually gets back around 7 p.m.

It’s quite a commitment, and because of all the time and the conflicts that it can generate, not everyone can attend every practice. It’s not like they don’t want to, after all, an afternoon playing golf is what people dream of doing. Still, practices are tiring, and they force the team members to be on top of their schedules.

Coach Jim Burke, club professional and manager of Leo J., is always there to help improve the team. He works with the team at the driving range, on the course, and at the putting green. He is always enthusiastic about helping the players get better and about recruiting new golfers, no matter what their skill level may be. Coach Burke was awarded the coach of the year award by the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference.

This very open attitude towards joining golf allowed a huge influx of freshmen talent to join the golf team last year. Among them were Thomas L. Gray ’06 and William J. Burke ’06. They were both recognized by NEWMAC last year, and Burke was named the rookie of the year.

Robert D. Batten ’06 began this year with two great rounds at Bowdoin, shooting 78-80, combining for a 158.

Matthew D. Smith is also a talented sophomore. Last year on the second hole at Leo J., during his first round there, he made a tap-in eagle. In addition, Smith is a part of ROTC, so he not only has to wake up early for golf matches, but for the Army as well.

The veterans have returned as well. David H. Guttag ’05, Lucas A. Ruprecht ’04, and Adam S. Champy ’04 have provided steady play to the team throughout the years.

With such a talented group returning from last year, expectations are high. “In the NEWMAC, I see our goal as finishing second and giving Babson a serious run for first” said Batten.

Indeed, there is no reason to look down upon the upcoming season. Not only do the returning players provide a high talent level, but newcomers to the team continue to provide steady support. Joseph S. Gionta ’06, brings with him a 7-handicap, and four years of experience on his high school golf team, for which he was the captain for three years.

The freshman standout this year has been Hawaiian Darren M. Chun. He shot an 84 at the first “Little 5” at Stowe Acres and then proceeded to shoot an 81 at the Bowdoin tournament.

The team opened the season on an extremely high note, shooting 660 at Bowdoin last week. The first round total was 324, which is 12 shots better than any round since Jim Burke became the coach of the team.

The team looks to continue its success this week at the Dartmouth Invitationals.