Coming off a record-breaking fall season in which it won four tournaments and broke five school records, the men’s golf team is currently ranked eighth in the country — the highest national ranking in program history.
Stern sophomore Joseph Burlison credits the team’s success to an influx of young talent.
“I think it all came down to [Head Coach] Brad [Johnson] as a coach,” Burlison said. “He’s really brought in around three classes in a row of players who could immediately impact the team.”
Team captain and Tisch junior Robbie Keyes echoed praise of Johnson’s recruiting ability.
“Brad’s been awesome,” Keyes said. “He’s recruited very well, he’s gotten great players to come here and, on top of that, he kind of just lets us do our thing, he doesn’t stress out too much about anything.”
Beyond recruiting, both Keyes and Burlison shared nearly identical anecdotes regarding the supportive atmosphere Johnson has established in the program.
“I especially like when we’re playing and Brad will come up and talk to us and it’s hardly ever about golf or how we’re scoring, it’s kind of like, ‘Sup, dude?’” Keyes said. “And that feels good. Even if you play bad, you know you’re still going to be able to have a good time after the round with your buddies and the coach.”
Creating a culture conducive to winning was one of Johnson’s main focuses when he became the head coach ahead of the 2016-17 season.
“I think the team culture has really changed,” Johnson said. “When I first took over, the culture was maybe one, that they didn’t care as much and now, the men on the team, their passion is golf. They’re really striving to get better and be successful.”
Evidence of this competitive culture lies in the players using the news of their highest-ever national ranking as motivation to always improve.
“We see the high ranking and we think we can get it even better,” Burlison said. “We’re not really sitting on our past laurels.”
Keyes maintained that the team’s successful fall season is merely an added reason to strive for even more greatness in the upcoming spring season.
“It’s awesome that we’re ranked eighth, but if we don’t show up for the spring and we don’t win [the] Liberty [League], we’re not going to go to the national championship, and that’s just how it is,” Keyes said.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself, obviously, but there’s no reason we shouldn’t win Liberty and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be a contender for the national championship,” Keyes added when asked about NYU’s goals for the spring.
On a steady ascent to success, everything suggests that the men’s golf team has a strong chance to win its third consecutive Liberty League title. With focused players and a winning team culture, the sky’s the limit for the Violets.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, print edition. Email Griffin Vrabeck at [email protected]