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Men’s Golf

Irish collect wins but struggle to find consistency

| Friday, May 19, 2017

Notre Dame capped off a season filled with ups and downs with a 10th place finish in the ACC championship on April 21.

The team, led by head coach Jim Kubinski, managed to achieve five top-10 finishes throughout the season, including a first-place finish at the Georgetown Intercollegiate and a tie for second at the Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic.

Irish senior Blake Barens hits his tee shot during the Battle at the Warren on April 15, 2016 at Warren Golf Course. Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish senior Blake Barens hits his tee shot during the Battle at the Warren on April 15, 2016 at Warren Golf Course.

Despite not finishing the season on an ideal note, Kubinski feels there were definite positive highlights to the season overall.

“We had several highlights this season, including posting the lowest team season scoring average in school history at 289.52,” Kubinski said. “We won four times, including the full-field event at Georgetown and the Yestingsmeier Match Play, and went 17-1 at home on the season. We also shot the lowest team round (268) and lowest tournament score (836) in school history, so we had our team playing great golf at different points.”

Nevertheless, with this confidence comes awareness. The team faced several challenges and obstacles throughout the year, and Kubinski and his squad are determined to overcome those next year.

“Our challenge was, really, that we didn’t always finish tournaments,” Kubinski said. “We had three or four events, including the ACC championship, where we were in first, second or third, in strong position, about halfway through and dropped back. A large part of that is the experience it takes to finish. We had 65 percent of our rounds played by freshmen and sophomores this year, so there were lessons learned that should lead to more strong finishes moving forward.”

Through all of the ups and downs of its long season, the team has developed in both skill and team chemistry. With strong bonds among underclassmen who will go on to lead the team in the future, Kubinski is confident in the team’s future, as the underclassmen have impressed their coach so far.

“Our group of underclassmen, from all the travel together this season, have bonded in a great way,” Kubinski said. “We had all six compete for us, each on multiple occasions, so they’ve shared a lot of experiences together.

“ … Everyone wants to win. These guys are doing or learning the things it takes. They work hard, put the little things that don’t matter behind them and keep moving forward, growing.”

Heading into next year, Kubinski said he wants the Irish to develop their stamina. At several points in their season, they found themselves in strong position early before struggling toward the end of the tournament.

“The mental energy necessary to compete, having strong emotional maturity, is another adjustment to college golf,” Kubinski said. “Most players must learn not to invest so much on each shot that their emotional tank is taking hits in Hour 1 of that 10-hour day. Our players are growing in this process, which has us excited for the upcoming season.”

As the season ends, the team says farewell to three senior leaders in Blake Barens, Liam Cox and Matthew Rushton.

Kubinski lauded Rushton’s consistency throughout his years on the team and praised Cox’s work ethic and low scoring average this season.

“[Rushton was] consistently a solid player for us over the years,” Kubsinski said. “ … [Cox’s career best scoring average this season was] a testament to his work ethic … [which was] as strong as any player we’ve had.”

Kubinski relished Barens’ win at the team’s home event in October.

“It was one of those moments when you had watched a guy struggle mightily as a freshman and sophomore and yet persevere to enjoy the moment of holding the trophy, in front of teammates, friends and family, with our Golden Dome as a backdrop,” he said.

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