Senior Austin Sachs (Dillsburg, Pa./Northern York) is starting out his final golf season strong, cutting down his previous average by a whopping ten strokes: from 89.6 to 79.0. The EMU team as a whole also came out swinging; they broke the program record in their first tournament of the season.
Austin attributes his success this season to a mental breakthrough and increased confidence.
“I would like to say it's barely anything that changed, it’s just what happened on the course that’s different,” he started. “(But) I finally broke through a mental barrier, and once I broke through it, I fell through it pretty quickly, too. So it doesn't feel like I’ve improved much skills-wise, but the scores are now more where I thought they should be last year.”
He has switched his mental approach to the game.
“Last year, it was how can I avoid mistakes, not how can I make good shots,” Austin explained. “Changing the mentality from negative to positive.”
He spent the summer in Harrisonburg where he had access to a short course.
“I was spending most afternoons there after work just chipping around for an hour or two, doing what I enjoyed...just taking it light and enjoying golf instead of practicing so to say, taking it as a relaxing off-season, not an ‘overworking my body’ off-season.”
As for the team’s overall success, Austin reflected that since they only graduated one senior last year, the team as a whole knew it was in a good place to perform well.
“We knew we were as good as we were last year,” he said, “it’s just playing the way we should, all getting through that mental barrier on the same day.”
He’s proud that his team has changed how they are viewed in the ODAC.
“When we go out there teams have to be worried that they’re going to lose to us, because sophomore and junior year we finished last in the ODAC...so it’s kind of nice to feel like a threat to teams that wouldn’t usually see us as a threat."
Austin hopes to achieve Academic All-American honors this year, which he will be able to do if he keeps his average below 79.
“It would be an incredible improvement from my freshman year when I averaged an 89. Ten strokes over four years is a lot, especially at this level of golf, but it would also be a big accomplishment from high school when I shot in the 90s, and see that progression over eight years.”
After a semester-long cross cultural last fall, Austin feels refreshed and ready to dive back into competitive golf. That semester was the first break he had taken from golf since his sophomore year of high school.
“Going overseas was just a chance to...focus on other things, and when I came back I was excited to play again,” he said. “I was excited to compete, something that started to lose its shine after so much, so many rounds and so much competition.”
Austin keeps himself busy off the course as well, with three majors and a variety of clubs. This spring he will graduate with degrees in accounting, economics, and business administration.
“I’ve tried to make sure my college experience was as full as possible,” he said. “What makes EMU great is that it’s so small you can do so many different things.”
This is different from his previous approach.
“In high school I didn’t keep myself busy, I just did a few things and that would be it. I’ve for some reason gone the exact opposite direction in college, but it’s good to embrace the full depth of what college actually is.”
Besides the academics, Austin is also involved in sustainable action.
“I’ve started up my own political organization...really trying to divest all of Virginia’s money from extractive industries, and really trying to change the world through small actions,” Austin explained. “[It’s] something that is different from golf, and when I go to golf I can leave that world behind and when I go do this activism and political organizing, the golf parts of me get left behind.”
However, when he does enter the world of golf, he makes an impression.
“Austin has been one of our most diligent workers on the golf team,” said Head Coach Mike Yoder. “He strives to become better and is a positive example for others with his work ethic.”
“It doesn't feel like it’s been three years,” Austin said. “I feel like I was just barely a freshman not that long ago, but it’s exciting, you know...there’s a lot of things left to do in my senior year here, still have ODACs and the entire fall and spring season to look forward to, and a chance to leave a mark in the program.”
-- by Elizabeth Nisly, EMU Sports Information Writing Intern