Jack Mulligan, a freshman member of the golf team, has been a top contributor this season. He led the team to an 8th-place finish out of 18 teams on Oct. 4 at the Oglethorpe University Royal Lakes Invitational, individually tying for 10th place overall. Previously, Mulligan was named UAA Golfer of the Week as well as the Liberty League’s Men’s Golf Rookie of the Week on Sept. 26.
What has the transition into college athletics been like? Have you faced any challenges this season?
It has been a quick transition. I was fortunate enough to play on the traveling lineup early, which resulted in being on the road for four weekends in a row very early in the school year. This meant that it was necessary to allocate time carefully in order to keep up with studies in hotels. A challenge would definitely be missing out on a lot of opportunities to meet other freshmen at the start of the year. This makes for an unconventional freshman experience.
What have you enjoyed about the season so far?
It was nice starting off the season and being able to compete against a variety of teams from different regions. This allowed us to travel to some cool places too. My favorite probably was Middlebury, Vermont. It was cool playing a course that is in the mountains. That’s not normal for me coming from Chicago. The views were good and it was a nice relaxing change of pace from the city.
Are you close with your teammates?
Most of my teammates, yes. When half the team is at a tournament each week, it is sometimes tricky to get to know the other half of the team. Now that we have had two months together, I am getting to know everyone pretty well.
What strategies do you use to focus during a competition?
I just try to keep a level attitude. I want to be acting the same if I am playing well or if I am playing badly. It also helps that our coach is often out on the course helping us with shots so it makes for a good change of pace when I can talk to somebody else about strategy. Overall, I just try to maintain focus by staying relaxed and not thinking too much about results.
What do you love about golf?
It is nice how there is a team score along with everyone’s individual score. This means I can always directly hold myself accountable for what I am doing right and wrong. It is also a great way of networking that will extend all through my life.
Compared to sports like baseball that you’ve played in the past, how does golf differ as a team sport? What are team aspects and individual aspects of the sport?
Golf is different because you have to work a lot less as a unit. Sometimes you don’t see other teammates for the entire round, so that brings in the individual aspect. Though there’s definitely a different sense of motivation when playing for the team, and I also think that momentum can run through the whole team.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Exerting 100-percent focus on the moment. When I’m on the golf course, that should have my full focus. The same goes for the classroom. I shouldn’t let my outside factors distract me from the task at hand.
What is your role on the team?
Given that the team is very heavy in juniors and seniors, I just try to learn as much as possible. I want to learn from what the guys have been through and what they did right and what they did wrong. Everybody has great experience on the golf course and in the classroom, so I just try to learn how they balance these.
What are your goals for the season?
I want the team to make [NCAA Playoffs] and be competitive when we get there. I just need to be improving on a daily basis and I can help play a role in that team success.
How do you feel you’ve grown as an athlete over the last few years?
Most important to me has been the ability to have better balance in my life. I have made more time for friends and family, while nothing else has suffered. I learned what impact my outside life has on competition. I think it is important to be able to completely step away from the game and enjoy time off.
Would you rather spend the month of August in Florida or Antarctica?
Florida. I like warm weather. Not fun wearing a lot of layers or just staying in the house. I enjoy traveling to different places, but Antarctica is just too cold for me.