The Sonny side
April 26, 2013
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That is how many golf balls Paly golf captain Grant Raffel (‘13) estimates that he has in his bedroom at home. One-hundred six of them are displayed on the walls, one from every course he has ever played including favorites California Golf Club and Eagle Bend. Fifteen are labeled with milestones such as “First Round Under 80” and two holes in one, while still more can be found in boxes, in duffel bags, or scattered around the room.
Golf pervades many aspects of Raffel’s life, his physical space being just one of them. To teammate Patrick Fuery (‘14), there is no doubt that Raffel is extremely dedicated to the sport and to the Paly golf team.
“He’s more emotionally invested than anyone else on the team,” Fuery said. “No one spends more time thinking about the team than Raffel. It’s like his life revolves around the thing.”
Raffel’s unparalleled devotion to the sport of golf has instilled in him patience, determination and a never-give-up attitude which not only make him a great player and teammate but which carry over into other areas of his life as well.
Raffel would likely agree with the assertion that he lives and breathes golf. He has been playing since the age of five and hopes to continue doing so for the next four years as a member of the Williams College golf squad.
The sport piqued his interest early and due to its intriguing nature has kept Raffel playing day after day, year after year.
“I think you just can’t have a more interesting sport than golf,” Raffel said. “I’ve played thousands of rounds, and it’s never the same situation twice. It’s always something new; you’re never going to hit the same shot twice. It’s such a challenge and a grind and I think there are definitely high highs and lows lows but because it’s such a tough game it’s very rewarding to do well.”
Despite Raffel’s personal love for the sport, he feels it “gets an extremely bad rap,” completely undeservedly, from those who do not play it. However, Raffel does not let this get to him and treats golf’s haters as motivators.
“I think people just watch golf or hear about it and they’re like, ‘Oh, there’s no running or physical contact involved, it shouldn’t be a sport, it’s too easy,’ but then when they go try to play it themselves they can’t even make contact with the ball,” Raffel said. “I think they like to attack golf out of, I guess, maybe jealousy, because they wish they could be cool enough to play golf.”
Besides being a cool guy, Raffel believes his personality is a perfect match for the sport of golf, a grueling mental battle which requires complete focus at every step of the match. His poise and resilience are on display when Raffel takes to the green; Paly golf coach Doyle Knight believes one of Raffel’s strong skills is his course management and ability to adapt to changing conditions.
“I think [golf]fits me really well because I’m kind of a patient, more thinking-type person and golf is definitely a game of strategy and a mental game,” Raffel said. “It has the physical aspects but it’s definitely, compared to other sports, much more mental and strategic.”
Many of his acquaintances see the deliberate, calculating side of Raffel but fail to realize that beyond this façade is a funny, outspoken person who is quick to share his opinions on a variety of topics or crack a joke.
“At school everyone thinks that Grant is very reserved and quiet, yet at home he is very outgoing,” sister Becca Raffel (‘14) said.
This outgoingness is one of the key factors that led Knight to select Raffel as the team’s captain for two years in a row, and which commands the respect of his teammates and peers.
“He communicates with me very well,” Knight said. “He’s a little opinionated about certain things, but that’s okay; I like hearing the players’ point of views and stuff, and he does that, and that’s what I feel like a captain needs to do. He needs to support his players but at the same time support me so I think he does a good job.”
Raffel projects self-assuredness and has impressed Knight since his first year on the team.
“When he was a freshman, we had a senior that was constantly picking on him and Grant would not back down,” Knight said. “Grant would just give it right back at him and that’s the way Grant’s been the whole time. He’s never put up with anything from anybody … The guys have a lot of respect for him.”
Teammates see Raffel as one who is always able to keep a level head, contributing to the respect they have for their team captain.
“[He is] cool, calm, and collected,” Fuery said. “One does not baffle the Raffel.” <<<