Friday, December 21, 2007
For me, the season with the Stanford men's golf team started out with
an exciting trip to Japan. It was great to see my old teammates again,
joking with them, giving them a hard time, especially the new
freshmen and in particular Sihwan Kim. The atmosphere in the beginning is always different and challenging because of new faces, but I knew Sihwan from
earlier days so he was able to fit right in with the team.
Besides watching Spiderman 3 twice and Fantastic Four a couple times, the
plane ride to Japan was tiring, yet exciting. For this tournament, the
highlight of my round was birdieing four holes in a row to contribute
to the team and put our team in position to win. It's moments like
these, where I fight for the team and seeing others fight for the team
as well, that makes being apart of Stanford men's golf fun. Not only
are you rewarded with the satisfaction of playing well, but your
teammates appreciate the effort ten times more.
The other moment that parallels this experience is when Graham and I teamed up in a short-game competition on the putting green. Six tees were set up to a small hole and the team took turn at each tee trying to make the put. If one
person missed, the team would have to start over from the beginning.
Time proved that going last as a good thing, and we were lucky enough
to be in that position. After seeing many teams show much frustration,
Graham and I pumped each other up convincing ourselves we'd to the
best and to stay patient. When the last put fell in only one turn
without any failure, a perfect score, Graham and I not only
congratulated each other, put the it pumped our team up as well, due
to the showcase of support and approval.
In all, this fall has been great with lots of hard work from each team member. We've grown together as a team and learned to lean on each other because of our own individual strengths, whether it's Grube's leadership for golf,
Graham's dry humor at early morning workouts, Sihwan's passion for his
biceps during extra workouts, or talking to the love doctor Dr. Kemmer
Living with Jordan Cox has been enjoyable as well, as we've grown from rivals in high school, to teammates, to friends. Besides waking each other for workouts, I enjoy talking about life and school with him.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
My third fall season has flown by, much like the first two, but this was undoubtedly the most memorable. We kicked off the season by flying to Japan and playing in the Topy Cup collegiate tournament there. While our performance in the tournament did not meet our standards, the rest of the trip was unforgettable. From eating more McDonalds than I ever have here (ask Coach) to climbing the Tokyo tower and seeing downtown Tokyo for 20 miles every way to watching the bullet train fly past at 150mph only 15 feet away from us, Japan captured the distinction of my favorite college trip.
The rest of the season was no less surreal. In Palm Springs we stayed at every 8-65 year old guys’ dream house, equipped with bowling alleys and theatres to watch football, and in Orlando we spent two hours at Tiger’s house wondering how his 3rd Claret Jug didn’t fall off his mantle because it was too full of trophies.
While we played well nearly every tournament, we couldn’t figure out a way to bring home a victory. Two 2nd place finishes have made us that much more hungry—we know we have the ability to dominate college golf, and I believe it is only a matter of time.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Going into the CordeValle Collegiate our team had yet to win a tournament, but had come a long way since the beginning of the season. The first few tournaments we played, our execution on the course was not very good and our scores and finishes showed. We were still trying to come together as a team and figure out how to play three solid rounds together. The freshmen were trying to get accustomed to college golf and the returners were trying to figure out what we were missing from the previous year's success. As CordeValle approached it was clear that our chemistry was coming together and we were regaining the same feelings that we had the year before. Morning workouts became more intense and afternoon practices were more focused. We were getting used to playing together and our team unity was taking huge strides. CordeValle, we felt, was the perfect place for us to return to our winning ways.
Although we were unable to defend our title at CordeValle we gained a lot of confidence and experience that will pay off during the spring season. Sihwan got his first college victory under his belt, Steve played his first college event representing the team, Jordan had his best finish in a college event, and we came together a lot more than the first couple of events. Steve and I went out first in the final round and the first tee shot was the most pumped up I had been at any point in the fall. We were twelve shots out of the lead, but I could feel that everyone on our team knew we could win and that UCLA was going to have to play really solid to beat us. CordeValle was a huge step for us in our process that will give us another chance to win a NCAA championship.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Although this fall season was my fourth, it presented a number of new challenges for me. Unlike past years where the predominance of players was upperclassman, this year's team is very bottom heavy. As captain, bringing along our four new freshmen has been a welcome challenge. They have acquitted themselves very well. I have learned a lot about leadership and mentoring.
Last year it seemed we embodied John Wooden's definition of competitive excellence "Delivering your best, when your best is needed most." At every tournament somebody came up with a big round when we needed it most. We were very seasoned and experienced. At times this year we have played like a young team. We did not know how to play as a team. However, our team matured dramatically over the fall season. Look for our immense reservoir of talent to translate into results in the spring.
Individually, I have struggled with my putting. I have made great improvements in both my ball striking and short game. My putting has prevented me from reaping the rewards of an improved long and short game. I will be working very hard during this off-season to rectify this problem. Once I get my putting going, I will see the results for which we are all looking.
Rob Grube, Senior
Monday, November 19, 2007
My first fall has been an awesome experience. Some of it is still a little hard to believe, but looking back, I would relate it most to a session we had with one of the psychology professors, who wrote on the "fixed" vs. "growth" mindset. Basically, a person with a fixed mindset is one that lives in the results, never accepts failure, and worries an unreasonable amount about how others will judge and perceive him/her; on the other hand, a person with a growth mindset is one that embraces struggles and challenges, and sees failure as progress, realizing that without struggles and failure, you can never have true success. Coming in as a freshman, I definitely had a lot to learn and a lot of room to grow. My standards in school, golf, and fitness were all raised to a new level, ones that I never guessed I would find in such a short period of time. Along with this process came great struggles and a more than a few failures - 7 a.m. workouts that blindsided me with a new level of difficulty every week, pushing me to the point of total exhaustion; swing changes that put me, for a short period, at a great disadvantage, trying to compete amongst the best team in the country; and seemingly insurmountable schoolwork and time restraints, with such a busy season right out of the shoot.
Now that it's finished, I can look back and be proud of it all. As many times as I felt like I wasn't going to make it through running, as many times as I stood over a shot, playing against my teammates in qualifying, grip in a weird position not knowing where the ball was going to go, I made it through everything. Never giving up and always being there on time, with the right attitude and the right mindset, is to me, a huge accomplishment. Now that I know the ropes a little bit, Stanford golf will still be a grind, always on my toes and always in competition, but at least I'll know not to be afraid, and not to worry about whether I'm going to make it, because the hard part is over and now it's just hard work. Traveling to my first tournament in Palm Springs was a great experience within the experience, and now I have an even better idea of where I need to go, and with this team and these coaches, I know I have the resources to get there. I've gotten closer with a lot of my teammates, and that bonding is a fundamental part, I feel, of this experience and the team's success. I'll continue to work on team dynamic and hopefully grow a little closer every week with these 8 other guys and our two coaches.
I've met some amazing people this fall. Like I said, this whole experience has been a little surreal. Coming from the east coast, I have an opportunity at Stanford to play some of the best courses in the world, ones that seemed so far off (literally) when I was on the other side of the country. Just last weekend, we got to go down as a team early Sunday morning and play Spyglass Hill. Playing on the Monterey Peninsula has been a dream ever since I started playing the game, listening to the life-lasting memories and stories my dad told me from his few cherished trips with his golf buddies to play Pebble, staying at the lodge and going around to Poppy Hills and Spyglass, too. In our journeys, and even around campus at the practice facility or up at the course, I've met some of the most brilliant, powerful people in the world, Stanford products that went on to global success in business, etc. I've also met a few celebrities, as to be expected on the west coast. Being a member of this team, I feel so spoiled a lot of the time. These people, the places we go, the treatment we get. I was on a cloud for the first few weeks, and still now whenever something special happens, I can't help but smile and think, "wow, there's something that doesn't happen every day." I know there's only more to come, and I couldn't be more proud and more honored to be a part of this prestigious program, surrounded by some of the best players and the most powerful minds in the world.
Matt Kennerknecht, Freshman- Matt's golf team webpage