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The First Tee: Ryan McCormick

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Hello to all followers of St. John's Golf! It has been a great winter for us as a team and program as a whole. Here is what we have done for the past few months.

After our season ended in early November, we all took a few weeks off to recharge our batteries. During the winter break, we all headed to a warmer climate to practice and play. Jeremy headed down to southeast Florida and was able to practice with some of our STJ Alumni including Evan Beirne, Mike Ballo, Kevin Velardo and Casey "Seve" Calmi. Mark, who happens to live in Florida, was up in Orlando where he is a member at Isleworth Country Club. Dylan, who lives out in California, was able to fine tune his game while working with his swing coach back home. He also was able to gain valuable tournament experience by attempting to qualify for the PGA Tour's Northern Trust Open. Pat and I traveled together and took a ten day trip to Florida to compete in the New Years Invitational in St. Petersburg. Pat played well and finished T-18th. Towards the end of our winter break, Mark hosted a two-man team tournament at Isleworth called the Cosi Bear Challenge. It was a fun way to end our break and also compete against some pros and fellow STJ Golf Alumni. Pat, Jeremy and I were able to make it from the current team and Velardo, Joe Yastrub, and Calmi. Other notables that were at the tournament were PGA Tour player JB Holmes, and Andrew Giuliani.

We welcomed in a new player to the program this spring, Mitch Hadfield. Mitch came over from England and has been a great addition to the team. Fortunately, since we have been at school, the weather has been good enough that we can go out and play. We have been using a lot of different facilities to practice at and also play. Glen Oaks Golf Club has been great to us and we use their outdoor heated hitting bay's to practice and also go out to play on the course. Craig Currier, their superintendent, has done a fantastic job at improving the golf course layout and condition. It is definitely an advantage to be playing at a course like Glen Oaks that is in great condition even in February. We have also used the facility over at Fresh Meadows Country Club, where they have heated hitting bay's. Two weeks ago, we had the pleasure of going up to Purchase Golf Club and meeting with Carl Alexander, their Director of Golf. Carl has been a great player in the Met Area for a long time and offered us advice on putting and general golf knowledge. We were able to use the indoor putting facility at the Golf Club that has video cameras to help improve your putting. During that time, we were all able to get some putting help and spent a little time each personally with Carl. As a team, we all greatly benefited from that day. Individually, Pat, Dylan and Jeremy have all gone back up to see Carl for lessons. Another course we have used to prepare for the season is Pelham Country Club. Mike Diffley (82'), who is the Head Golf Professional at Pelham and also our volunteer assistant coach has been a great help to the team and more specifically Pat and I. Mike is a great help in all aspects of the game, but is a great Mental Coach. He has been doing some hypnosis with us and has really been a great help. Pat and I have also been going up to Five Iron Fitness in White Plains to get our body's physically golf ready for the spring. Anthony Renna, who run's Five Iron Fitness, is incredibly knowledgeable and has really helped both Pat and I get ready for the season. Some other courses and facilities that we have used over the last few weeks include Old Oaks Country Club, Seawane Country Club and Spring Rock Golf Center.

For me, personally, heading into our first event, I feel that my game is in an awesome place. It is the most prepared I have ever been heading into a new year. I work a ton with Mike Diffley and he has been so crucial for me, in getting me ready for the year. Going down to Florida and being able to play under competitive pressure was a great experience to head into the spring with. Working with Anthony from Five Iron Fitness has also improved my flexibility, which is something I had struggled with in the past. Also, with the help of the weather up here, I have also been able to get out and play just as much as I would during the late spring, which is a great advantage over a players from other teams that haven't had that experience. I couldn't be happier with my golf game heading into Arizona.

We have a great schedule for this spring as we are heading to Arizona, Puerto Rico, Texas, Philadelphia, Southern California and Florida.  As a team, we are looking forward to this spring and hope to start it off right with great play out in Arizona. We are currently on the outside looking in for our NCAA Regional hopes and look to make a run this spring to set ourselves up with a chance to compete at the NCAA Championships. With the current success of Andrew Svoboda, who finished t-2 at the first Nationwide Tour event of the year, and Keegan Bradley, who finished t-2 at the PGA Tour's Northern Trust Open, we hope to bring that momentum to Arizona and come away with a win. Thank you to all of the golf clubs and people who have helped us this winter in preparing for the season, and for all the people who continue to follow our program. Let's go Red Storm!

Ryan McCormick

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