By Joshua Fitch
While Youngstown State University athletics is in the midst of basketball, bowling and track and field, along with the start of baseball and softball, golf isn’t too far behind.
Tony Joy, now in his 35th season as coach of the men’s golf team, said his team can’t wait to get outside, and the drive to take a swing at the ball is higher than ever.
“Well, we’re getting pretty bored practicing indoors,” Joy said. “Hopefully, we’ll get some decent weather and we can sneak out at times. The kids have really been into it.”
The first tournament for the men will take place Friday, March 8 at the Jackrabbit Invitational hosted in Boulder City, Nevada.
Sophomore C.J. Hughes said he is excited about the upcoming opportunity that the Penguins have and achieving the only thing that matters; a Horizon League Championship.
“With the added competition as a team, this will push us all to be better. The morale of indoor practice has been great, and I know everyone is eager to get outside and hopefully win some tournaments this spring,” Hughes said. “The final goal is for a conference championship which myself and the whole team believe we have a great shot at claiming.”
The added competition Hughes is referring to is Zach Ford, a transfer from East Tennessee State University, one of the well-known golfing colleges across the country. In addition to the leadership returning in the spring, there’s a good sense of competition, as well as confidence.
“The kids have really been into it,” Joy said. “It seems like everybody’s working hard and I think the fact that we brought in a transfer. I think that’s caused a little more competitiveness between the guys.”
Like in any sport, competitiveness builds team chemistry and improves every member of the roster. One of the key ways to score in the sport is in the short game, something that the Penguins have been working to improve from the fall season.
“I think they’ve been doing a lot of work and at the end of the season they started to work on, especially putting and chipping,” Joy said. “When it comes down to teams that win and lose, it comes to the short game. At the end of the day, if you’re putting well, you’re going to do well.”
Youngstown weather in February can be unforgiving at times, making it difficult to get outside for practice, especially finding a putting green. That’s why the Watson and Tressel Training Site is crucial to success at YSU and a priceless asset.
“We are so fortunate to have a great facility like the Watson and Tressel Center to practice indoors,” Hughes said. “We’ve been having team meetings and practice everyday as well as an open putting green we can use at anytime.”
Hughes added that confidence and expectations are at an all-time high this season. One the team is very much looking forward to.
“The leadership coming from our seniors Jason McQuown and Evan Standohar has been great. They motivate us and push us to be the best we can be,” Hughes said. “Coach Joy also is there anytime we need help with anything ranging from our swings to our studies. He always reminds us of the talent we have. It is clear that he has high ambitions for this team the remainder of the year.”