Grahek steps up for ND
Mike Ginocchio | Monday, September 8, 2014
As Notre Dame begins the season with just two freshmen on its roster and a core of eight returning golfers, the Irish will have an established veteran squad, but an important aspect of the team will still be how the senior leadership guides the Irish, according to Irish coach Jim Kubinski.
Kubinski said senior leadership has been mostly taken on by senior Patrick Grahek.
“Patrick has eyed a leadership role for some time,” Kubinski said. “It’s something he has wanted. Not all players want that role, as it can be a blessing and burden. Yet, leadership is not a right of seniors. Leadership is earned through one’s actions. Patrick’s growth in this way, with his desire for the role, have begun to open the opportunity for him.”
As he has stepped into a leadership role that he has been keen to take, Grahek’s overall consistency is what makes him most important to the roster, Kubinski said.
“Patrick’s greatest strength on the course is his overall level of consistency throughout the bag,” Kubinski said. “He drives it in play with above-average distance, is a good iron player and can compete in all short-game areas.”
This is a marked improvement from his contributions to the team early on in his career for the Irish. As a freshman, Grahek ranked second-to-last on the team in stroke average and was the only player on the roster not to crack the top 25 in any tournament. His sophomore campaign was only a little better, as he cut his stroke average by 2.2 shots. It was in his junior year that he finally moved into the starting lineup, garnering two top-10 finishes and the third-best average on the team.
“Patrick was a complementary player for much of last season, his first year in our lineup,” Kubinski said. “He spent a good portion of last season gaining experience and, eventually, comfort. By the end of the year, especially at ACCs, he was a strong contributor for us.
“With nearly a full season in front of us, it’s difficult to predict the impact and/or legacy of any senior. As with our team, Patrick’s role and development within the role is a process. At this point, I can only say he has positioned himself for an opportunity to enjoy success.”
Grahek has already led the Irish to an invitational title at the Notre Dame Kickoff Challenge on Aug. 31. Grahek tied for the tournament title and shot a 136 stroke two-round score, the lowest of his career. Grahek also placed in the top 30 at the Gopher Invitational at the Windsong Farm Golf Club in Independence, Minn.
Ultimately, as the Irish look to continue a good start to the season, Kubinski is confident that the team, under leadership of players like Grahek, can produce competitive results.
“Off the course, I’ve watched him grow each and every year,” Kubinski said. “No student at [Notre Dame] is ever a finished product during their time here. That would be a shame if they were. Life is about growing. Patrick has embraced that and keeps improving all the time.”
The Irish next take the course Sept. 21 for The Windon Memorial at the Evanston Golf Course in Chicago.