The PGA Tour’s Safeway Open is scheduled for this week, and golf will surface again in the news after the playoffs ended two weeks ago and the Ryder Cup concluded last week. Golf fans will be looking out for Brendan Steele or Patrick Cantley, the only two players from the Official World Golf Rankings’ top 100 players who will be competing in the tournament. However, Montclair State University students should look no further than their own campus for the latest news in golf.
Undeclared sophomore Frankie Caruso is bringing a golf team back to campus after a steady absence of the sport from Montclair State’s athletic department.
Despite being an avid golfer since he was 8 years old, Caruso never had the time to focus on the sport as he played football and baseball throughout most of his academic career.
“Since I played baseball growing up, I never really had the time to take [golf] seriously,” Caruso said. “Now that I’m done playing baseball, I can enjoy the game more.”
Caruso planned to find a golf team on campus to get back into the feel of being on a sports team. When he found out the team was inactive, he decided to take action and form it himself.
“My original [idea] was just to go to the club sports office and see if the team was together,” Caruso said. “I heard no one was running it, so I kind of just figured out what needed to be done to start the team.”
Director of Athletics Holly Gera said there were varsity women’s and men’s golf teams in the past. However, both of these teams were discontinued in 2005.
“Both programs were discontinued when we did a program review a number of years ago,” Gera said. “We were not able to appropriately support the programs and had to make some cuts in sports.”
Seeing as the golf team will now be in the club sports department, it no longer operates within the athletic department and is now under campus recreation. Coordinator of Intramural Club Sports, Campus Recreation and Intramural Sports Kyle Bianchi said golf was also coordinated by the Student Government Association a few years ago but is no longer in existence, which is why creating a new team was necessary.
“We are very excited at the opportunity to have a team return to activity after years of being inactive,” Bianchi said.
Caruso found players through Canvas and posted messages in his big lectures that consisted of many students. He asked students if they liked to play golf and to email him if they were interested in joining the team he is getting together.
Freshman television and digital media major James Lynch helped launch the golf team after he emailed the head of club teams seeking more information. Campus recreation’s club sports department allowed Lynch and Caruso to form the sports team because of a number of other students searching for an active golf club.
“I’m hopefully looking to expand it and make it a bigger thing through the years,” Lynch said. “I hope to improve my gain through the club golf team here and build character along with friendships.”
Caruso was told to join the National Collegiate Club Golf Association (NCCGA), which is a college league that does tournaments up and down parts of the East Coast from Connecticut to New York. If these tournaments conflict with the team for travel purposes, then Caruso plans on getting involved with a different league. He found an 18-and-over league in Clifton, New Jersey that plays local courses. For now, players would have to pay their own league fee.
Caruso said that his original goal when creating the team was just to raise awareness about the sport and introduce it to more people.
“I think a lot of people hear about golf and think it’s a country club sport that only rich, white guys play,” Caruso said. “But really that’s just a small percentage of the people who play.”
Other colleges in New Jersey have started a similar initiative, such as Rowan College at Gloucester County (RCGC) in Sewell, New Jersey. After a 27-year hiatus of golf on campus, coach James Clarke and some RCGC students brought the sport back last year as a club sport. This year, they plan to be intercollegiate.
“We are a two-year college, and we put flyers out to see what response we would get,” Clarke said. “We are having men and women, and a good response from the student body got it going.”
RCGC golf competes in the National Junior College Athletic Conference, and they are in Division XIX within the Garden State Conference.
Montclair State’s club team currently has 8 players that are all men, even though women are welcome to join. There is no faculty adviser or coach at the moment. Caruso is still searching for a place where the team can practice and has reached out to the Upper Montclair Country Club. He is also figuring out a specific meeting time and wants to solidify the club’s minor details, including the budget and any fundraising goals, before creating playing plans with the team.
“If we figure out a fundraising goal, then we’ll try to execute that,” Caruso said. “Our next thing after that would be uniforms. We want to get into a league before we do that.”
The team plans to compete in a NCCGA tournament later this month. It is a 36-hole tournament and is a qualifying round for nationals.
Caruso encourages anyone to join the team and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with interests.
“Golf is such an individual sport, so I kind of wanted just to be a part of a team again,” Caruso said. “Meet new people and get out there more.”