Kentucky Men’s Golfers Poised for Big Season
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The clouds are beginning to part, the sun is peaking through and the grass is growing blue, which means that golf season is approaching in the bluegrass. But, the spring season for the UK Men’s Golf Team is already in full swing.
A long road still lies ahead though before the team approaches the postseason tournaments hosted through mid April.
“These next few tournaments all build into the postseason,” said Coach Brian Craig. “I would love to win one of them but what we really want to do is make a postseason run and we want to peak at the right time.”
The season opener has already revealed a promising future as the team finished fourth at the Puerto Rico Classic. In fact, their fourth place showing was more than a celebration. It also checked a goal off their priority list for the season.
“One of our team goals is to finish in the top four in every tournament,” said Craig.
Securing a win before the postseason is also a high priority. It would be an advantage to the team to have that winning confidence, according to Craig.
However, winning doesn’t come naturally. There is quite a bit of preparation involved in that process. There are two ways to prepare for a tournament, according to Craig. The first way to prepare is to compete within the team, so the golfers participate in what is called “qualifying.”
Qualifying is a tournament within the team to consider which golfer will compete in the upcoming tournament. “It is always quite competitive,” said Craig.
The second way to prepare the golfers for tournament play is by training, and the term ‘practice makes perfect’ certainly isn’t an unfamiliar one for the team.
The team approaches training in a couple of ways. The coaches create training sessions where they structure various challenges each golfer must accomplish to help build their technique. The other style of training the coaches prepare is what they call “Player’s Practice,” where the coaches instruct individual players on whatever skill they need to build on at the time.
“All I expect them to do is do their best and do what’s right, and if they do that, I am going to support them 100 percent, in practice and in competition,” said Craig. “What we are hoping to do is build great relationships with the players so that out of those relationships, some great performances can be had.”
When playing in a conference as deep as the SEC, having a great performance is more than a satisfying bargain. “For people who are unaware of golf, I tell them think SEC football and it’s every bit of that and some years more,” said Craig. “I like this team and I like the chances that we have, if we can get a little better everyday in practice.”
Who wouldn’t like this team? It’s nearly the middle of their season and they’re healthy, they’re talented and they keep each other’s spirits high.
“This team overall has a great since of humor and they are really funny,” said Craig. “I have never noticed them at a tournament to be tight.”
While they may not show their nerves, the team certainly has expectations for the remainder of the season. But expectations can be a good thing, according to Craig. They get the team up out of bed every morning and keep them motivated to work hard.
However, what Craig is teaching the golfers for this season is to not let their expectations get in the way of them simply playing the game.
“What we’re trying to do is just help them learn to focus on the process, play one shot at a time and concentrate on the things that actually lead to success and not focus on the outcome,” said Craig. “When you focus on the outcome that’s when expectations can get in the way.”
The team is currently competing in the Tiger Invitational in Auburn, Ala. They will compete in two more regular season tournaments, the Schenkel Invitational in Statesboro, Ga., March 18-20, and the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate in Awendaw, S.C., April 3-5, before moving on to the postseason.