1-on-1 with Dan Slavin '15
This week, I sat down with men's golfer Dan Slavin '15 to discuss the team's fall season and how the team is preparing for its upcoming Ivy League match play.
When did you first start playing golf?
DS: I started playing when I was five when my dad got me out on the course. He's a pretty good player, and we played locally at our country club. I always played other sports as well, but didn't start playing golf competitively until eighth grade when I started playing in junior tournaments during the summer. When I got to high school, I wasn't sure if I was going to play baseball or golf in the spring, but I picked golf and stuck with it and here I am.
Growing up outside Boston, it's pretty tough to play year-round. How did you train in the offseason?
DS: I actually worked with a coach at a place about 40 minutes away from my house during the offseason. They had heated bays there at their driving range, so I could pretty much play year-round. It helped me keep my swing and come back strong in the spring.
In high school, you were a four-year letter winner in both golf and basketball. How do you think playing other sports helps your golf game?
DS: I think it's always good to mix it up. Basketball definitely kept me in shape in the winter, which is good for any sport. I think playing other sports helps with hand-eye coordination as well. Taking a break from golf in the winter also kept my love for the game because I was always excited to get back on the course in the spring. I actually wasn't sure whether I was going to play college basketball or college golf, but I decided on golf.
Golf is an individual sport, but you play as a team. How do you balance the individual and team aspects of a tournament?
DS: That's really tough actually. In the summer tournaments, you're playing for just yourself. If you play badly, you only disappoint yourself. When you're playing for the team, you have to play a lot smarter. Every shot counts in stroke play, so you can't try and be a hero. You have to stay in every round and play a little more conservatively and within yourself. You can't lose patience or lose focus since you're playing for your team and school.
Dartmouth golf has found some success with Peter Williamson '12, currently the eighth-ranked amateur in the world. How was playing with Pete, and how do you think his success will affect the future of the program?
DS: Pete is the best golfer I've ever seen. His goal coming in here was to take the Dartmouth golf program to the next level, and I think he achieved that. If you look at our recruiting classes now, the golfers that come in and want to come to Dartmouth are at a much higher level. Pete also taught us a lot. He personally taught me how to chip. He showed a lot of people that even if you're living up north, you can still make it. If you ask anyone on our team, none of us were shocked how well he did this summer. We knew his talent.
The team started strong at its first tournament of the season but struggled last weekend at the Shoal Creek Intercollegiate. What do you think led to the team's streaky play?
DS: I think just like any sport you go through hot and cold streaks. Last weekend was an off weekend for us and we have to move forward. We weren't happy with our performance, but it humbled us and I think our practices since have been much more intense and focused.
The team has Ivy League match play at Princeton the weekend of October 19-21. What is the team doing to prepare, and how much does having a home course advantage help the Princeton team?
DS: A home course advantage definitely helps the home team, but it still comes down to performing when it counts. Ivy match play is a good opportunity to see competition before the spring when we play for the Ivy Championship. This is the first time in a couple years we've had Ivy match play, and it's a different format than we usually play, so we're all pretty excited.