Carlson's Corner: Moving Up

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Gopher Golf Fans-

As we embark on our next challenge, or -- as I like to tell my players -- another opportunity, I want to take a moment to reflect upon our latest tournament performance in New Mexico. We have also been very busy with qualifying, along with the first round of midterm exams for all student-athletes.

We have now had five practices and three qualifying rounds since our last competitive round at the University of New Mexico Championship GC, but it seems like just yesterday since I saw our sophomore, Jon DuToit, hole his par putt from 12 feet on his last hole at the Tucker. The Tucker, hosted by the University of New Mexico, is played at 5,000 feet of elevation on a golf course that measures 7,678 yards from the back tees. The elevation plays a huge role as it accounts for approximately 10 percent more carry distance on every golf shot. In summary, here is how we determine the actual yardage is shot was playing:

1.            Lasered Yardage to Pin
2.            Uphill/downhill yardage in elevation (measured by Bushnell Slope Laser in practice round)
3.            10 percent is subtracted from Nos. 1 and 2
4.            Wind Variance
5.            Temperature affected yardage-Frost each morning...in NEW MEXICO(was 85 degrees in MN) 

Go Gophers! Charlie Braniff
Go Gophers!
Read a Q&A with Charlie Braniff below.
Go Gophers!

All in all, we have very intelligent players that made the calculations perfectly, and now it was a matter of execution. Our execution was superb through 33 holes as we were tied for second at that point. In a tournament featuring nine teams ranked inside the top 50 in the NCAA rankings, I finally realized how far the program had come in the last four years. But the excitement in reflection would soon come to an abrupt halt as we finished our final three holes that afternoon 10-over-par. Nevertheless, we had a firm handle on sixth place, trailing USC and UNLV by three shots heading into the final round. After the 20-plus mph winds and dust settled on Day 1, we were once again led by our outstanding freshman, Jose Mendez, with a 36-hole total of 148. Closely behind him were senior Alex Gaugert (73-77), junior Tyler Lowenstein (71-81) and Jon DuToit (73-79).

It is never easy to finish a long day with a few bogeys and despite the upbeat team meeting talking about the "positives" from Day 1, our struggles carried over into the final round. A frost delay and tucked pins greeted all the players on Day 2. We got off to a shaky start but found the heart to battle all day long in tough conditions to secure an eighth-place finish in this strong field. Jose Mendez continued his solid play by posting a t-14th finish that led the team for the second straight week. This day would serve as a great motivator for our practices to follow!

The five days of practice focused entirely on wedge yardages, putting drills and bunker technique in order to alleviate the pressure of missed greens when we play the tough college golf courses. Our 10 men have bought into a strong work ethic, detailed preparation and a more confident mindset, which will prove valuable as we take on our next challenge at Sonoma Golf Club.  Before Sonoma though, we qualified at Minikahda Club, Edina CC and Minneapolis GC because each of these golf courses mirror the conditions we will face in Northern California. Alex Gaugert won the qualifying with an even-par total of 216 by five strokes over runner-up Jon Trasamar. Tyler Lowenstein and Jon DuToit grabbed the final two spots over hard charging Charlie Braniff. 

I have been very impressed by the play thus far of our redshirt freshman, Matt Rachey, and one of our other freshmen, Grady Meyer.  I wouldn't be surprised to see multiple freshmen in the lineup throughout the remainder of the fall and into the Big Ten Championship in May. Competition is alive and well within Gopher Golf, which will help to maintain or improve our current ranking of 49th. At this time two years ago, Gopher Golf was ranked No. 122 out of the 296 Division I golf programs. 

I will be giving daily interviews from California and all fans can follow the live scoring from the Alister Mackenzie on Golfstat.com. Before we compete at Sonoma Golf Club, I like to take my teams to fascinating places on each trip and this experience will not disappoint. We will be playing Mayacama Golf Club the day prior to the practice round, which is one of the finest golf clubs in the country. Stay tuned to GopherSports.com, check out our player feature in this blog on Charlie Braniff, and continue to support our program each and every day!

Fairways, Fairways, Fairways--

John Carlson 

Player Feature: Charlie Braniff (R-So./St. Cloud, Minn./St. Cloud Tech HS)

GopherSports: What are your goals for the season?

Charlie Braniff: My goal for the 2013-14 season is to continue to wake up each morning with a desire to get better and begin to see some results from my hard work.

GS: What is the biggest strength of your game?

CB: My biggest strength in my golf game is my creativity, I feel I can execute any shot I need in any situation by visualizing it.

GS: What is your favorite course in the Twin Cities?

CB: My favorite course in the twin cities area is Somerset CC. That course has some of the most amazing views I've ever seen.

GS: Do you have a favorite club in your bag?

CB: I have 14 of them.

GS: Is there anything interesting that you carry around in golf bag?

CB: I carry around a Titleist No. 7 ball I found when I was younger and it has a lucky charm stamp on it. I feel like it gives me good luck.

GS: What is your favorite part of being a Golden Gopher?

CB: My favorite part about being a Golden Gopher is being from Minnesota and being able to wear the Maroon and Gold and represent the university.

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