One of the hardest things a person must do is wait. When the thing that someone is waiting on is something they love and are passionate about, the longing becomes even more intense. For the Seton Hall men’s golf team, the wait to return to the course and the game they love has lasted almost a year.
Since playing their last tournament at Bandon Dunes in Oregon last March, the team had to deal with the initial shock of having their spring season canceled due to COVID-19. The disappointment continued as no fall sports were played either, canceling the team’s anticipated fall season.
However, after the men’s and women’s basketball teams began their seasons in November, men’s golf became the next Seton Hall squad to return to action when they participated in Big East match play two weeks ago. The Pirates beat DePaul, lost to UConn and tied with Marquette.
Graduate student Alex McAuley went 2-1 against Seton Hall’s trio of Big East opponents at that tournament, only falling short of a perfect sweep after a 3 & 2 setback to Marquette's Josh Robinson. McAuley, like all of his golf teammates, has been eager for competitive golf to resume for Seton Hall.
“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time, we’ve been lucky enough to see our basketball team and that just gave us more hope that we can do what they’re doing because they seem to be keeping safe,” McAuley said.
After an initial pause in November during preseason practices, the men’s basketball team hasn’t had a COVID stoppage since, and the men’s golf team hopes to follow their example. In terms of COVID, McAuley mentioned that he doesn’t have many apprehensions about playing during the pandemic.
“Seton Hall put protocols in place while we’re away that will keep us safe and especially being on a golf course, too, we’re able to keep our social distance from other teams,” McAuley said.
COVID-19 was also the impetus for McAuley returning for a fifth year, taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility offered by the NCAA to repay the many spoiled seasons for college seniors last year. McAuley has used the extensive layoff to get better, practicing as much as he can in the team’s golf room in the recreation center, fueled by not having a senior year and hungry for a return to competition.
Coach Clay White added that all his players have asked for more time in the golf room and have been extremely motivated, fighting off the apathy that could arise during a long layoff. White also echoed McAuley’s excitement about being back out on the course but added another reason for excitement that echoes the strangeness of our current moment.
“I’m so excited when we’re able to test negative. If we do test positive, we have to cancel a tournament,” White said. “The anxiety of waiting to get test results is a new component to competition this year.”
Naturally, White was apprehensive about traveling for the first tournament two weeks ago, which took place in Clearwater, Florida. Despite the apprehension that Coach had about traveling, it is unquestionable that he and his players have a burning desire to be back out on the course.
“I think the guys would say that they would do just about anything to be able to compete and play tournaments and that’s hands down what they want to be doing,” White said.
The Pirates will compete in their first tournament of the season on Feb. 22 at the Pinnacle Bank Intercollegiate. McAuley is in the team’s lineup for the tournament along with seniors Andres Acevedo and Gregor Tait, junior Deven Ramachandran and freshman Brody Hanley.
Matt Collins can be reached at email@example.com.