Students Defeat Faculty in HBS Ryder Cup

The first annual Student vs. Faculty Ryder Cup match was the brainchild of quirky and oh-so conspicuous Gaurav Misra (NB). The event promised to result in a good time, friendly competition, and enduring memories…and didn’t disappoint! On Friday, April 18th, six groupings of golfers met at Blackstone Golf Course to decide who would take home the HBS Ryder Cup trophy. Each group paired a team of two faculty members versus two RC students. The tournament was played using Ryder Cup rules in which the lowest score on each hole wins the hole for that team, and a tie “halves” the hole. At the end of the 18 holes round for each group, the team that won the most holes earned a single point for their respective squad, either the faculty or the students. The students triumphed in the closely contested match with a two point advantage, and claimed the first Student vs. Faculty Ryder Cup trophy!

The students got off to a quick start with a 2 and 0 win (up 2 holes with 0 holes left to play.) Alex Kinnier (NB) shouldered the burden for the students on the front nine with precise ball striking, while I sealed the deal by controlling the backside with five pars. Walter Kuemmerle hit a “Hail Mary” wood to within 12ft on the 208yd par 3, 13th hole for his “closest to the pin” attempt, but lost the title later in the tournament. On the longest drive 18th hole, Jason Barro offered me his theories on triangulation, vectors, and metallurgy to explain why his DRIVER shot should have the first claim to the prize even though my 240 “yardish” shot using a 5 wood appeared to be slightly further than his (a wide patch of rough running through the middle of the fairway at about 260 yards prevented all players from hitting the real long balls…not the best hole choice for longest drive.) But, I gave it to Jason hoping that it would give him the incentive (Jason teaches CCMO) to come back for the rematch.

The students dominated the faulty in the next pairing as Gavin “Sandbag” Smith (NF) shot a 79 in tough weather conditions. Most of the day was chilly in the mid-40 degree range with a brief preview of spring. Gavin also won the longest drive prize, running his drive to the end of the fairway just before the rough started. Joe Machado (NB) came alive for the students later in the match winning the par 5 eighth hole with a birdie, and playing the last eleven holes only four over par. These guys are good. Scott Snook (West Point grad and retired Colonel) birdied the 12th hole by hitting a 4-iron to three feet away. This highlight for Snook may help him forget his disappointment toward the match when he was reported to have remarked “damn, this is almost as bad as the Army-Navy game this year!”

The faculty got its first glimmer of hope in the third match in which the lead shifted throughout. The match was even when they reached the 18th. Andre Perold had an 8ft putt to win it for the faculty. He had been doing a great job of getting into position to win holes during the round but the putts just weren’t dropping for him. Perold’s putter failed him once more and the match ended even. Gaurav had a birdie on the second hardest hole with a stellar 230yd approach shot that landed 10ft from the hole. The faculty team was extremely consistent while Gaurav and Gog Boonswang (NA) covered each other’s erratic games. I saw Gog several times wandering the woods with a flashlight and shovel looking for his balls. But, the negative correlation of the student team’s games was the theme of the day and key to success. The students effectively covered each others shortfall displaying excellent teamwork.

Dean Kim Clark led the faculty side in the highly competitive fourth match which was even from the middle of the back nine to the 18th tee.

Both Dean Clark and partner Jerry Green were just off the green in three strokes on the 18th, and Dean Clark was getting a handicap stroke back on this hole. On the student side, Mike Sweeny (NF) – who won closest to the pin award – had a 90ft putt for an eagle and Allison Crumley (ND) had a make-able birdie putt. Dean Clark hit a good chip from an awkward lie but was still 10ft away. Sweeny struck a great long putt and had a short one for birdie. Dean Clark stepped up to the challenge and rolled the slippery ten-footer into the cup for a five, net four with the handicap stroke. Allison and Mike both birdied the hole and the match was halved. At the conclusion of the tournament Dean Clark was anxious to leave, possibly trying to avoid buying everyone drinks for his drive on the first tee that reportedly took a b-line for the left woods and didn’t clear the ladies tee. Yes, I know that the driving range wasn’t open to practice before the round, Dean.

The students won the tournament clincher in the next match with a convincing win by Thomas Tarnoski (NI) and Philip Tseng (NI), both fellow section mates (and the section you love to hate!) Warren McFarlan held the faculty team together on the front nine in this match.

But as they made the turn, it became apparent that Warren is a 9-hole guy as his game came apart. The students took advantage and secured the trophy for their side. The final match saw the student team of Noah Charney (NF) and Joel Carter (NG) take an early lead, only to be outmatched by the skill and poise of the faculty team, Rob Huckman and Earl Sasser. The faculty’s 4 and 3 domination sparks hope for the faculty’s quest to win the trophy next year.

All-in-all it was a great time for everyone. After the golf, some of the students and faculty hung around and shared in the traditions of the 19th hole…food, beer, and folklore. But remember, this is an HBS event. So in addition to tall-tales of mammoth drives and heroic putts, students were mesmerized with Snook’s tales of bullets whipping past his ears in Panama and the stealth tactics of the clandestine Delta Force.

Kuemmerle provided insights into international business and entrepreneurship while David Thomas demonstrated balancing a hectic schedule and family life by dashing off to pick up his daughter.

Throughout the day the faculty offered insight into their courses, the business environment, and life in general. This was the first of what is sure to become another fine HBS tradition, and this year’s student team looks forward to offering the faculty an opportunity to take the trophy next year.