Confession: I get pretty anxious on airplanes.
I don’t get anxious about the confined space only made worse by the guy in front of me reclining his seat. I don’t mind turbulence too much either. Every once in a while, I’ll hold tight to my armrest when the plane drops 30 feet in one second, but I figure it’s about the equivalent of hitting a pothole when driving.
The part of the flight that makes me most anxious is takeoff. The engines up their workload and the plane begins moving down the runway. Faster. And faster. I see a very reasonable problem arising in that moment. We are still on wheels, and I begin to interrogate the pilot in my head.
“How much runway do we have left? Are we going to get off the ground?”
When I break my anxiety down to its simplest source, I get stressed during takeoff because the plane is not yet doing what it is designed to do.
All signs at the beginning of this season for the Furman Men’s Golf Team indicate that our group is going places this year. Nearly everyone put up at least one round of par or better during our initial qualifying. Our four true freshmen have contributed to providing incredible depth and competition to our team. Leading into our first tournament at The Prairie Club, our entire group felt very confident that we could finish well in the field.
The golf course itself was a beautiful challenge. Nebraska is nothing close to flat; the architects preserved the natural rolling hills and barely moved any dirt to create the course. Many of the holes were designed with multiple options for tee-shot landing zones, where the more conservative play often led to a blind approach shot or a tougher angle into the green. Picking a more aggressive line had advantages, but carefully placed pot bunkers would penalize an errant shot. The wind, which was strong enough to cancel the first day of competition, played a large role during the 36-hole day and was the source of much frustration for our team. Good shots often ended up in places we thought they shouldn’t and bunkers over 300 yards away were suddenly in play.
Our finish at The Jackrabbit is not a great indicator of how well our guys in the lineup (Bryce Howell, Connor Bruns, Liam McGrath, Jake Reilly, and Stephen Reynolds) struck the ball in firm and windy conditions. We averaged close to 13 greens in regulation each round and drove the ball pretty well most of the week. Given those stats, you can probably guess that our putting was what led to our poor finish.
After processing through a disappointing finish as a team, we all came to the same conclusion: our plane has not left the ground. Sure, that comes with some pressure at this point. We need more quality preparation in practice and clear mindsets during tournaments to maximize our potential. With only 10 opportunities in the year to compile our resume to make NCAA Regionals, our learning curve with a young team needs to be as efficient as possible. Soon enough, we’ll be flying.
Our next event is the Firestone Invitational on October 3-4 in Akron, Ohio. Garrison Hogan will return to the lineup, and Stephen Cerbara will make his college debut alongside Bryce Howell, Connor Bruns, and Jake Reilly. Follow along on the Golfstat Leaderboard, our social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), and the Furman Paladins Website.