One-on-one with Ian Kelsey '18
Ian Kelsey ’18, captain of the men’s golf team and one of two seniors on the team, has helped lead a surging Big Green golf team as they look ahead to the upcoming Ivy League Championship in late April. The tournament will be held at Stonewall Orchard, a course just outside of Philadelphia. He claimed his first collegiate title this past weekend at the Cornell Spring Invitational in Florida; it was the first tournament win by a Big Green golfer in nearly two years. Previously, Kelsey has been named First Team All-Ivy and finished second at the Ivy League Championship as a sophomore. He is pursuing an economic major at the College.
How do you feel about being a senior?
I.K.: It’s been a great four years. My golf game has definitely gotten much better. I’d say the program has gotten much more serious and the recruits have gotten much better, and hopefully that’ll show in this last stretch. For me, I know it’ll be a little sad because I’ve spent a lot of time with these guys. Hopefully we’ll end on a high note. Our coach has never won an Ivy League Title before. He’s come pretty close. We came second my sophomore year but it’d be nice to get him a championship.
How did you get into golf?
I.K.: I’ve been playing since I was 10. My first tournament was when I was about 13. My dad is the one that got me into it. I played football, basketball and baseball in high school but I realized that I was more competitive when it came to golf and I would get a chance to play at a college level. I started focusing on that a lot more toward the end of my high school career, and I ended up at Dartmouth.
Do you feel ready for the team to be going to the Ivy League Championship?
I.K.: Yeah, I think we’re getting there. This year we have three really great freshmen who are definitely going to help us. After the winter when we have to practice inside, we have a two-week spring trip to shake off the rust. The first few winter tournaments are to help us prepare for the Ivy league championship, so I think we’re definitely getting there right about now.
Who is your biggest competitor?
I.K.: Yale University and Princeton University are the two teams that are on top of the league right now. Harvard University has won it the last two years. It’s always kind of hard to tell with golf, but they don’t seem to be doing as well this year. Especially with golf, it’s more about how we play. If we play our best, we definitely have a chance to win.
What is your typical pre-round routine?
I.K.: We usually have a 36-hole day for the first round of the tournament. That means we’ll leave the hotel around 6 a.m. and get breakfast at the course. We’ll warm up for an hour by hitting some putts and doing some short and long game work. It really depends for each player on how they go through their pre-round routine. I like to start with some putting, then hit balls at my range just moving throughout my bag, then some chipping and finish with a couple more putts before I tee off.
How would you describe the team chemistry? Does the team have any specific team bonding events?
I.K.: We’re a very close-knit team because we spend a ton of time together on the road. Especially being one of the smaller teams at Dartmouth, we get to know each other pretty well. Considering that we travel so much during the season, everyone gets to know each other very well. I think that helps us when we play because even though golf is an individual sport, we end up playing for each other a little bit more.
What are some things to look out for in the Irish Creek Intercollegiate in North Carolina this weekend? Are you guys doing anything drastically different to prepare?
I.K.: It’s a great field this year with several of the top teams in the nation. We’re just going to try to play our own games and see how we stack up. We treat this tournament as a great opportunity to prepare ourselves for the home stretch of the season. Ultimately, we hope to peak at the Ivy League Championship, so each tournament is a great chance to continue to improve toward that goal.
How have you guys done previously at the Ivy League Championship? How do you think this year will be different and what could make it better?
I.K.: We have great freshmen this year who have continued to improve throughout the year. They will definitely help us compete this year. Two years ago, we finished second behind Harvard by only four strokes, which has definitely provided motivation for the team. I feel like we have had a good schedule of events this spring that have helped us work on our games to the point where we should be peaking at the right time. Hopefully we’ll get all the right bounces and play well enough to take home the title.
Are you going to do anything with golf after college?
I.K.: I don’t have any plans on playing professionally, but definitely still playing competitively at amateur events, local golf associations and that kind of thing. I’ll be working for a real estate private equity firm in Connecticut.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.