HANOVER, N.H. — Many student-athletes at Dartmouth have managed to successfully perform at a high level in the classroom and within their respective sport, but there are a few standouts that have been able to excel in both spheres exceptionally well. Ian Kelsey, a member of the men’s golf team and Class of 2018, is amongst the individuals who have done so.
Kelsey is an economics major at Dartmouth, the most popular and one of the most rigorous majors offered at the college. During his sophomore year, he earned First Team All-Ivy. This season, Kelsey earned medalist honors at the Cornell Spring Invitational by carding a pair of two-under-par scores of 70 to win by three strokes. His performance helped the Big Green tie for first with the host Big Red.
“It was an overall great week,” Kelsey said. “I actually switched putters right before the tournament. Changing my viewpoint of the course was definitely helpful. I like to consider myself a good player in all conditions, but going down to Florida and being in the heat kept me loose throughout the rounds.”
Kelsey started playing golf competitively when he was 12 years old, and as he continued into high school, he had his eyes set on playing at Dartmouth.
“I was looking for a school that had a great academic program and golf team. I was looking at a couple of ivy league institutions. I got in touch with Dartmouth through Coach Parker, who came down to watch me compete in one of my tournaments. I visited the campus in the summer after my junior year and then for an official visit the following fall.” said Kelsey.
After greeting the coach and visiting the campus twice, Kelsey had established a good relationship with the Bill Johnson Head Coach of Men’s Golf, Rich Parker, and enjoyed the atmosphere of the team. It did not take long before he decided to fully commit to attending the institution.
“I had a great weekend getting to know the athletes on the team and Coach Parker, and I verbally committed to attend the institution on my flight home,” said Kelsey.
Kelsey had a decent first year on the golf course, but a great deal of his improvement as an athlete came during his sophomore year. Kelsey posted a stroke average of 73.7 and had a season-best score with a 67 (-4) at the season-opening Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic. But his best performance took place at the 2016 Ivy League Championship in Jackson, New Jersey. Kelsey finished second, just one stroke behind Cornell’s Luke Graboyes.
“I never really played as well as I could have my freshman year. I went home that summer and worked on honing my game, played in one of my first professional tournaments and came back with a lot of confidence. I started pretty strong my sophomore fall and managed to carry that performance into the championship season.” said Kelsey.
As an economics major at Dartmouth, Kelsey has taken advantage of the wide range of disciplines and is now concluding his academic career with Economics 49, Topics in International Economics.
“I am taking a seminar in International Trade [Economics 49], and I will be writing a research paper incorporating a lot of statistics. It’s part of my culminating experience.”
Kelsey believes that his Dartmouth experience has been made worthwhile on the team, as he imparts part of his success to having a close-knit team and coach.
“We are always traveling on the road for our invitationals both seasons, which allows us to get to know each other pretty well, as well as getting to know Coach Parker, too. It has been really nice forming those friendships,” said Kelsey.
What truly sets Kelsey apart from others is his demeanor. Whether at practice or at a key invitational, Kelsey’s composure is always calm and collected throughout his entire performance. Coach Parker sees Kelsey’s attitude to be one of the best exemplary attributes he has seen in his 13 years as a coach in the program.
“He is the only athlete I have ever coached in 13 years that never complains, even if his playing falters,” said Coach Parker. “He has had the same answer for four years regardless: ‘I’ll get it back, coach.’ He never gives up.”
Kelsey is admired for his sportsmanship and character both on and off the golf course. His teammate and good friend Edric Wung '18 speaks to his integrity by stating, “He is always excited to practice. He will text me ‘I am going to Leverone right now.’ He doesn’t even ask me, and just to know that he is making the time to get in some extra work makes me want to get out and do the same.”
Coach Parker expresses what a pleasure it has been to coach Kelsey, and he admits that he will be sad to see such an outstanding student-athlete graduate this spring.
“I’m going to miss the van rides,” Parker lamented. “He sits in the front seat and helps me navigate. We like the same food — this is great because we overrule the other athletes in the van. When you play five athletes, you can always count one athlete to play well every time; Ian is that athlete. He is quiet but very humble.”
After he graduates, Kelsey will start working at a real estate private equity firm in Connecticut, where Wung will also relocate. The two hope to be able to continue post-grad golf competitions in amateur tournaments.
It is clear Kelsey has shown great achievement in his academic and athletic spheres and has high aspirations for the future. But with the Ivy League Championship this weekend, he has one objective heading into the last championship of his career.
“We just want to go in and play our best golf. We have five guys who have the potential to play well. We have a great chance of winning this year.”