Lin paced the Crimson by taking fourth place overall (Bruce Waterfield).
By Courtney Hooton '16
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Harvard women's golf (HWG) team opened its long-awaited season at the Yale Invitational hosted by Yale University. Because team members pursued their professional and personal goals outside of golf during the summer, the team members were not in a position to play tournament golf and work on their games – a stark contrast to most top Division I college golfers. Since the conclusion of their jobs and internships, however, team members have been working hard to sharpen their games.
The team faced a strong field and a difficult golf course, but these factors were no match for the team as it focused on controllable factors. Each team member creates a mental routine that allows her to apply her skills to whatever situation or course she is playing. This insulates her from outside factors and allows her to perform as well as possible with the technique and body she brought to the course on a given day. For the tournament, the Crimson scored 298, 297, 297 totaling 897 to place second.
The team, as always, was excited to play at The Course at Yale. The Yale Golf Course has a rich history, and is often merited as one of the best-designed early American golf courses. The course is home to undulating fairways, massive greens, and narrow fairways. Golf Magazine once ranked Yale as 71st among the 100 most difficult courses in the world. Two of the holes- the 432-yard par-4 fourth and the 238-yard par-3 ninth - have been ranked among the 100 most difficult holes. The Yale course has also been the site of every significant Connecticut state championship.
The team began its tournament paired with the host team and Seton Hall. Harvard was led by Christine Lin '16, who shot an impressive one-over-par, 72. Lin was leading a team of impressive players with Brenna Nelsen '15 shooting a 73 and Anne Cheng '17 shooting a 75. Courtney Hooton '16 and sophomore Nina Fairbairn '17 rounded off the group with a 78 and 81, respectively.
The team had some impressive shots on day one, and knew that if it continued to focus on controllable inputs it would achieve success. The team specifically was working on attaining a level of engagement in the round that allowed it to play its best. Team members also focused on certain feelings in their swings and shortgame that they knew would help them build towards optimal technique for the rest of the tournament and the rest of the fall.
The Crimson followed an impressive first round with an even better day two. Lin continued her success from the previous day with another 72. Hooton and Cheng posted a pair of 74's. This was especially momentous for the duo, as Hooton is the mentor of Cheng as part of the Sarah A. Harvey Mentorship Program. Fairbairn improved with a 77 and Nelson shot a solid 78. The highlight of the day was a special spectator, Paul Weissman '52. The women were excited to see Mr. Weissman, and felt so fortunate he was able to find the time to attend their event. Watching the women play at Yale was special for Mr. Weismann as he grew up just miles from the course, and played the golf course countless times. The women tried to squeeze some inside tips from the alum, but it was deemed that to share his sage knowledge was unfair to the other teams.
The final day was an exciting one. The smell of competition was in the air as Harvard, Yale, and Xavier battled for the championship title. As they have for a number of years to strong effect, while other teams might have focused on results, the women of HWG knew to focus on process. This meant continuing to keep their mental and technical games organized. Each member made a plan of action and stuck to it, untouched by the potential pressure of the final day. Hooton led the final stretch with a 72, closely followed by Nelsen and Lin who shot 74 and 75, respectively. The team scores were rounded out by Cheng and Fairbairn who concluded the tournament with a pair of 76's.
Given their ability to focus on controllable factors, the team viewed the tournament as a success. More importantly the Crimson viewed the Invitational as a learning experience. The women of HWG were able to affirm their level of aptitude and evaluate areas they could continue to strengthen. The women will get another chance to show their prowess next week when they play at the Penn State Invitational hosted by Penn State.
The team members would like to thank Yale University for the invitation to play its tournament and hope to return next year. They would also like to thank Coaches Kevin Rhoads and Claire Sheldon for their invaluable coaching tips and priceless chaperoning skills. Finally, they would like to thank the continued generosity of the Friends of Harvard Golf for enabling this amazing experience.