After battling nerves and difficult weather conditions in the past two tournaments, the men’s golf team aims to improve before the NESCAC championship. Due to a scheduling conflict, the team will split up in order to compete in both the Williams Invitational and the Maine State Championship this weekend. 

Last Saturday the Polar Bears struggled with challenging course conditions at the Husson Invitational and finished fourth out of eight.  

“The conditions were terrible, very windy, very difficult. Maybe one player felt as though they played well, but the others just hung in there,” said Head Coach Tomas Fortson.  

Competing for the first time this season at the Bowdoin Invitational two weekends ago, the Polar Bears placed sixth out of 10 teams, unable to capitalize on their home-field advantage.

 “Even though we hosted, we expected that people would have a few extra nerves,” Fortson said. 

“In our case, we have quite a few players who are trying to establish themselves in our travelling squad, so there was probably additional [pressure] for them to perform well in this event and set a mark, and that probably had an effect on us.”

The team is also larger than in years past, and there are restraints on how many players can compete in tournaments. Fortson said that 10 out of his 13 players are capable of competing for the five travelling spots in the NESCAC championships.

Fortson says that this weekend’s scheduling conflict gives him an opportunity to assess the bulk of his squad, with 10 players competing in the two invitationals.

“It will give most of the players on our roster the opportunity to push to the next level,” said Fortson. “I’m going to have a difficult decision after this weekend to pick five for the NESCAC championship.”

Fortson added that both tournaments are just slightly less important than the NESCAC championship at the end of September. The Williams Invitational will be more difficult, though the Polar Bears have yet to win the Maine State Championships, whcihs attended by all the D-III schools in Maine. 

Fortson noted that his team will be up against four particularly strong programs: Husson University, University of Southern Maine, University of Maine-Farmington and University of New England. 

While he acknowledged the high level of competition his team will face at both events, Fortson says that he is not intimidated by the strengths of the other teams. 

“In golf you play the course. Its not really what the opponent does that affects you. It’s a unique sport from that end,” he said. “We don’t have to go in there worrying what the opposition is going to do.”

The fall season is a short one for golf, and with such little time, the Polar Bears said they feel the pressure to develop quickly and improve on a weekly basis.  

“We are aiming to have our best event at the NESCAC championships. While every event is important, the hope is to peak at the time we’re playing that,” said Fortson. 

He said that his players’ initial nervousness can be channeled into positive results for the team. 

“Once you learn how to churn that away from fear and into motivation, that’s when you start playing really well,” he said.