Swinging for the team

Men’s golf team places third in national championship

Chris Murray (above) led the Gaels to a bronze medal at the national championship with a +9 score, their best finish in school history.
Chris Murray (above) led the Gaels to a bronze medal at the national championship with a +9 score, their best finish in school history.
Photo supplied by Chris Murray

Queen’s golfer Jordan Gregoris held a comfortable spot in third place after two days at the Canadian University/College Golf Championships.

But the tables turned quickly on Gregoris, as he struggled to make his shots and dropped in the table. 

Disappointed, he sheepishly walked over to the scoring tent expecting to find that his team had dipped in the standings. But to his delight, they didn’t.

Instead, Queen’s maintained their position in second place and made the cut to compete in the fourth and final round — a feat last accomplished by a Queen’s team in 2011.

The fourth day of the event ultimately saw the program take home a bronze medal, with Queen’s placing two golfers in the top 20.

Considering this is their best finish in the tournament in the school’s history, one thing is for certain — Queen’s golf is on the rise.

The silver lining in Gregoris’ +11 final performance was that, even in a sport as individualized as golf, having a collective group of people invested in the same goal is contagious and eventually spurs successful results.

Leading the pack for Queen’s was first-year golfer Chris Murray. He shot a +9 and tied for 14th at the event, and barring a few shots that didn’t go his way, he was pleased with his performance. 

“I’ve learned to always go into a tournament expecting to play your best,” Murray said. “You can’t hope that you’re going to do well — you just have to do well. I play better on a bigger stage because of this mentality, and I wasn’t surprised of the result.”

Of the four male golfers on the team who competed at the event, all finished within the top 32 players (of the 52 that make the cut for the final round). And, to Murray, this is just a small testament to the growing talent of the program.

“All the players know what they’re capable of and we enjoy playing together,” Murray said. “If someone played poor, the other teammates had their back.”

On its surface, golf is largely centered around independent achievements. Oftentimes, a player’s strong play is exclusively attributed to themselves — but at its core, Queen’s team extends beyond that. The successes experienced on the course are as contingent on those who surround them as the players themselves.

For instance, Murray pointed to the role the women’s team plays in making the program as a whole feel more like a team. Gregoris agreed, saying that with the men’s and women’s teams competing alongside one another, they’re building the golf program, as opposed to just fielding their rosters.

The women finished the tournament in sixth place — their highest in history — with Melissa Ramnauth (15th, +41) and Robyn Campbell (19th, +49) leading the charge.

For Gregoris, who was the only Gael player to compete in the tournament prior to this year, the biggest difference from years past was this team’s commitment to each other.

According to him, the program has been reinvigorated by simple “team-first” ideals, namely, prioritizing team goals ahead of individual performances.

“When you’re travelling and competing alongside one another, things like commitment to focus and playing well tend to rub off on those around you,” he said.

There is a clear sense of unity within the program. Now, the belief is that they should always be competing at a high level.

“[The team] used to talk about ‘making the cut’ as a successful year — this year we didn’t talk about that,” Gregoris said. “Our goal was to win.” 

Looking to next year, the teams have partnered with Cataraqui Golf  & Country Club and apart from having a consistent course to practice on, the facility presents something the team has lacked in its past — the dedication to team building and player development.

The program is more confident, united and prepared than it has ever been, and they’re looking to keep it rolling.

“There is no reason why we can’t bring home a banner and hang it in the ARC,” Murray said.

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