Just as the fall portion of the Muhlenberg golf team’s season seemed to be in full swing, it has come to an end. After a shaky start to the season, the group played their way to a third place finish in the John Makuvek Cup on Oct. 1. Despite a relatively disappointing 12th place finish in last week’s Montgomery Cup, the Mules showed much improvement between days of the tournament, most notably finishing Sunday’s round with 20 fewer strokes than they did the day prior.
“We have continued to improve throughout the fall, mainly because of the amount of time we practice week in and week out,” said Joel Hark ‘22.
Hark has definitely taken advantage of the practices and has established himself as one of the feel-good stories of the golf team this year, opening his season by shooting an impressive 71 at the Frederick W. Anton III Memorial Invitational. Since then, he has consistently been at or near the top of the leaderboards for the Mules.
Even after tournaments where the group does not place as well as they had hoped, they make an active effort not to let it affect the group’s morale. “For the past couple of weeks, my coaches and teammates have been telling me to keep my head down and to continue to work hard,” Hark added.
As the fall season comes to a close, the team seems to be shifting their attention toward the spring season and beyond. “At the moment, we are a small and young team with goals to be at the top of the conference in the spring and, [we] hope, bring in more recruits next year to better our chances of being the best team in the Centennial,” Hark continued.
Despite his relative youth, Hark has taken on a leadership role in the golf team. After the departure of many key contributors from last season, like Ben Lieberman ‘19 and Ellis Focht ‘19, the team has seen a lot of turnover in the last few months. Even with two big players on the move due to graduation, the team has still seen a few additions to the roster. These new faces include Austin Lancsak ‘20, who joined the team for the final three tournaments of 2018-19 after transferring from nearby Lehigh Carbon Community College, Max Shapiro ‘20 and Jake Ghamar ‘23.
Additionally, the group has an invaluable asset in Adam Marcus ‘22, who has consistently been shooting between the mid-70s and low 80s. Even though he did not play in the Montgomery Cup, the sophomore has dazzled fans this season. In addition to his consistent strong play, not unlike Hark’s, Marcus most notably finished tied for a whopping tenth of 96 golfers at last weekend’s Mason-Dixon Classic.
“I came into the season with a different mindset,” Marcus said to sum up his personal improvement this fall. “I’ve been putting a strong emphasis on improving my short game, specifically my putting, which has given me more confidence during tournaments,” he added.
In spite of the fact that golf is considered by many to be an individual sport, this team seems to be challenging that notion. The group makes a conscious effort to ensure that they are putting forth their collective best at every tournament they take part in, whether that is by giving one another pointers, practicing their swings together in their downtime or even something as simple as the upperclassmen giving the freshmen rides to the course.
The golfers concluded the first part of their season on Monday, Oct. 7, when they tied off the Muhlenberg Invitational at the nearby Lehigh Country Club.