By: Simon Rollins, Staff Writer
The UMF Golf Team has begun to post low scores after swapping their practice course from Wilson Lake Country Club to Waterville Country Club for the 2015 season. The team’s early achievements are notable, as they have already established themselves, statistically, as the best squad Farmington has seen in the current decade.
Progress materialized quickly when Bob Timmins, 11-year UMF Golf Coach, made the decision to transport his team to Waterville Country Club in Oakland, Maine to gain experience on a more challenging golf course than the two they tromped on in years past (Sandy River and Wilson Lake). The Country Club, a peculiar course constructed in 1916, features a handful of quirky holes and numerous mentally testing situations. Gavin Brickley, Sophomore and Co-Captain of the team said, “It’s definitely more challenging. The greens are way faster…you have to hit the ball in your own fairway.” At Wilson Lake, golfers can regularly execute poor shots and still find their ball in favorable locations. This is not the case now. At Waterville, players are forced think their way around difficult shots, simulating positions they will likely encounter during competition this season.
Proof of recent improvements surfaced during the team’s very first tournament, the UMF Invitational. Leading Freshman Eric Aguiar recorded an astonishing 73 in the home tournament on Waterville’s offbeat, par 70 course, while three other members joined Aguiar in the coveted feat of breaking 80.
Elizabeth Ferry, President of the North Atlantic Conference Student Athletic Advisory Committee, as well as the UMF Student Athletic Advisory Committee feels the change in courses has lead to a positive team climate. “Success is contagious, they did well at the beginning and I think now that they understand that they can do well, they want to strive for that excellence,” Ferry said.
Although the course is a step up from their previous practice location, players are finding the time required to travel by school van from Farmington to Oakland and back to be quite challenging. Dan Capone, a sophomore on the Golf Team, has been forced to sit in on a separate section of a lecture throughout his school week to accommodate the change.“I have to, now, go to the sister class in order to make it to the van at 2:30,” said Capone.
Although consequential time is eaten away, the busy college students find that the decision to change courses is necessary to bettering the team. “It is worth the effort,” Capone said. Brickley agrees, voicing an additional benefit of the move: “It’s benefiting the team, plus I also think it’s better for recruiting.” With incoming athletes considering UMF each year, the new, upscale course could possibly attract freshmen golfers to the program. “If we’re playing Wilson Lake, we’re basically playing a less than par course,” Brickley said. “Waterville is one of the better courses in Maine.”
The team will compete in their conference tournament October 9 and 10 at Rutland Country Club in Vermont.