Spring brings new opportunities for men’s golf

With the shadows of last fall fading away and a long winter of hard work coming to a close, the Marquette men’s golf team is primed to begin a new spring season. Coach Steve Bailey has put the team’s disappointing autumn performance on the back burner and said his team is ready for another chance to show their skill.

“There’s a lot of excitement when you come out of the winter,” Bailey said. “There’s the uncertainty, but there’s also the excitement for a fresh start. Obviously we struggled in the fall but put in a lot of work over the winter.”

Bailey said his team still has yet to come together as a single unit in a single event, but that he has high hopes for this season with the addition of freshman Adam Chester. The Morcambe, England native has so far played very limited roles in practice but will experience his first full season of competition this spring.

“We saw pieces of brilliance, but for us to be competitive we’re going to need all of our guys to show up and contribute in the same event,” Bailey said. “Adam’s game is very impressive. He hits the ball a long way and hits a variety of shots that a lot of other guys can’t pull off. He’s still got a ways to go as far as maturing and adjusting to playing in U.S.”

Chester said that while it has been a challenge to transition from English to American style golf, it has not come without its perceived advantages in driving the ball.

“With all respect, it’s a lot more like darts in America,” Chester said. “The ground is a lot softer, and you carry the ball to the pin every time you use an iron. Back home it’s very different on a very open wide golf course with very few trees and a lot more wind, and you seem to play the ball a lot lower.”

Chester said his English background also gives him an edge in his short game, an area in which Marquette struggled frequently in the fall.

“One thing I noticed when I came to America was that a lot of people have great preference with the lofted wedge around the greens, and I’m not really that kind of guy,” Chester said. “I like to keep the ball on the ground and eliminate the variables such as spin with a lofted wedge. I can definitely use the longer irons, chip and run and bump and run shots to my advantage against American players.”

The team’s only senior, Matt Haase, said the Golden Eagles have put in a lot of work to improve as an overall team, rather than a squad with one or two exceptional players.

“I think we got a lot of good work in ever since we got back to school, and a lot of guys got to play back where they were from over break,” Haase said. “We’ve had a lot of productive practices that have been different than they were in the fall.”

Marquette recently finished up a match play championship tournament last week in Orlando, Fla., which Bailey described as a tune-up and a chance to play at the Reunion Resort, the site of the Big East Championships at the end of the season. Marquette faced mostly Big East competition in the tournament and Bailey said the team got a good look at what they’re up against this spring.

While the Golden Eagles struggled overall in the match play, freshman C.J. Swift provided a bright spot, going 3-0 and giving Marquette its only single match win.

“(Swift) is a great ball striker, and I think if we continue to work on his short game and get him some confidence with his putter he can do some impressive stuff for us,” Bailey said.

Despite the freshman’s impressive start, the Golden Eagles do not want the common theme of having only one or two solid performances per tournament to resurface. Chester said the team would mostly focus on building up self-confidence to eliminate the issue.

“A lot of our players go out with the “don’t mess up” mentality, and for me it’s more about going out there and trying to enjoy it,” Chester said. “We’re all in a fortunate position and everyone on our team can play at a high level, so if you just go out and relax and get into your comfort zone all the hard work in practice pays off.”