Sunshine State Sojourn
It was a typical day in the life of Harvard's globetrotting number-one golfer Alex Vik, as he mashed a dimpled projectile towards the green of the Oslo Country Club on an August afternoon and ambled down the fairway. The astounded ball, smitten, soared far up the fairway curling towards the fat part of the green with just the daintiest trace of a fade.
"Suddenly I heard a 'pang.' The guy I was playing with said it went off the green," recalls the one handicapper from Las Palmas, Spain. "It had landed in the hole on the fly." Vik went on to nail down second place in the Norwegian Open and was also the runner up in the Spanish Open.
After spending a summer on the European Tour combatting the fiords of Scandinavia and the heath and harebells of Pennal, Yorkshire, where the British Youth Championship was played, Vik, along with six other members of the golf squad will spend spring vacation among the palmetto fronds of Florida limbering up for the coming season.
The linksmen will be accompanied through their Citrus State swing by former coach Tim Taylor '63, who has been relegated to a non-official status as golf mentor by an Ivy League ruling that places a ceiling on the number of coaches per school.
"I think people should realize Timmy Taylor's doing this out of the good of his heart," says returning letterman John Bartlett.
Under the new ruling, Taylor is presumed to be simply vacationing while escorting the team down South and is not permitted to go out on the course with his charges during a match. "It creates a feeling of hypocrisy on the team," Vik says.
Taylor was considered dispensable because of the individual nature of a golfer with his balsta spheroid. "He's not knowledgable enough to instruct us in the technical aspects of the game," Vik says. "When you get to this level you should be able to correct yourself anyway."
After sponsoring three mixers, hawking 140 Harvard hats at hockey games, and garnering a sprinkling of donations from Friends of Harvard Golf, the team has reeled in enough funds for one-night stands at St. Pete-Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Sea Island, Ga., and Hilton Head Island, S.C.
The seven-man contingent consists of team captain Scott McNealy, freshmen Spense Fitzgibbons and Randy Millen and sophomores Vik, Bartlett, Dave Paxton and Peter Smith.
Fitzgibbons swats a jumbo ball and should have the second slot--behind Vik--wrapped up. He won the Pennsylvania Junior Open last year. Millen, who led the freshman hockey team in scoring, is a two-handicapper who won the Massachusetts Junior Crown in his junior year of high school.
"We're looking to the underclassmen for a lot of support," Bartlett says. The newcomers will have to fill the Foot-joys of last year's captain Tom Yellin, Steve McConnell, Peter Zurkow, and John Ellis, all lost to graduation. "Numbers two, three, and four might not be as stable as last year," says Vik, "but we can do sporadically very well."
Vik walked away with the Ivy League championship last year and is definitely the one to beat this time around. This summer he was also named to the European All-Star Team for the 21 and under age group. "He just really belts the ball," says Bartlett. "He hits it out of sight."
"It makes it easier to win when you've won before," says Vik who nevertheless refuses to slack off and has been know to jet to Spain once a month to get a checkup from his local pro.
The old Scotch adage goes that a golfer should be aware of no more grass than will cover his own grave and taking the exhortation to heart, Vik decided to enroll in a transcendental meditation course to increase his concentration. "If I can be more well-rested and make fewer mistakes it should help my game," he says.
Last season's linksmen were the best in the Ivies, winning eight of their dual matches and dropping only two. That squad also topped New England Division I, which sent the Crimson to the NCAA's for the first time in eight years. The team took the Greater Bostons and won three out of its four tournaments, some of which had fields of up to 30 schools.
The Crimson's golfers will battle it out to determine the final seedings for the approaching campaign on Florida's otherwise sedate watering holes. So don't expect to find Alex Vik and company punching eight irons over the Charles anymore, which is as sure a harbinger of spring as major leaguers lazily shagging fungos across the Grapefruit League.
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