It’s been just about a year since Bradley men’s golf has stepped on the course for competition as a team, but a new season provides new opportunities and head coach Jeff Roche’s team is ready to resume what it started last year.
“We got a little experience last year and got some momentum going into the pandemic, so I think that should bode well for the future,” graduate standout Alex Ciaramitaro said.
In the shortened 2019-20 season, the Braves tumbled through a tough and competitive fall that saw the team finish in last place in all but one of its tournaments.
That trend wouldn’t stand for long, as just before the season was abruptly canceled due to COVID-19, the Braves finished fourth at the Grover Page classic on March 10, their best finish of the year, and seemingly showed signs of finding their footing.
The end of last season is what Roche hopes to see by the end of this one, but he knows that first, the Braves must once again find their footing.
“I think as we go, we’re going to get better,” Roche said. “But the thing that will determine how we’ll do will be our conditioning.”
The team has been practicing at their indoor facility, mostly working on putting and chipping. The most difficult part for the men is, other than some players who were lucky enough to actually golf during the winter break, the lack of playing on actual grass.
“The main thing that Coach has instilled in us is to be patient because it will be uncomfortable at first, and that it’s not going to be perfect the first time out,” Ciaramitaro said.
Despite having to practice on turf, the team has found ways to utilize its time wisely. Roche has been setting up putting and chipping drills for the men while also having them practice some swings on a golf simulator.
“This time of the year can actually be beneficial because it allows you to work on some things that you wouldn’t naturally work on once you get outside and actually start playing,” Roche said.
While this young team — primarily made up of freshmen — continues to get experience, it’s the older players like Ciaramitaro, who seem to think that this team is just as competitive as the other teams in the MVC.
“I think that we have as much talent as anybody in the conference; we just have to find a way to put it together at the same time,” Ciaramitaro said.
The Braves welcome back Ciaramitaro, a former two-sport athlete who finished as the team leader in strokes last season. This season, he said he’s focused on making a name for himself while also being aware of things he can improve on as well.
The team will debut on Saturday at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville where they hope to come away with an early-season victory and even more experience.