Gopher Golf Fans!
The offseason for college golf is upon us. Strength and conditioning sessions are at a higher intensity. individual meetings, fall season statistical analysis, yoga sessions and recruiting are in full swing around the country's best college golf programs. A reflection on our fall finds me smiling and sitting back in my office chair relaxing in knowing that my players are having the time of their lives competing for the Maroon and Gold!
Without getting too far ahead, I still have our final tournament of the fall to analyze. The Kiawah Classic hosted by Charleston Southern brought 18 teams from all across the country to compete on the par-72, 7,015-yard Jack Nicklaus-designed Turtle Point Golf Club. To say this golf course was tight would be an understatement. Out of bounds stakes and water hazards greeted each player from hole 1 to 18. The constant winds off the ocean, tough pin placements and thin Bermuda lies greenside presented the biggest challenge of the year for our team. Day 1 is a day that I have already erased from my memory as balls careened out-of-bounds, 3-putts abounded and Gopher Golf endured the toughest scoring day of our outstanding fall season. 312 was the score as Jon Trasamar led our team with a 3-over-par round of 75. Junior Tyler Lowenstein (76), freshman Jose Mendez (79), freshman Matt Rachey (79) and senior Alex Gaugert(80) round out the scoring.
Read a Q&A with Matt Rachey at the end of this blog entry.
We have all watched the movies "Miracle," "Invincible" and "Rudy" which offer inspiration in times of desperation. For the 45 minutes following Round 1, I gave my best impression of the great coaches in these movies. It was hard to see our well prepared team collectively struggle but it also gave our coaching staff the opportunity for teaching/coaching moments, and each of the players responded well. Round 2 would prove to be dramatically different as we putted the ball considerably better and controlled our trajectories better from tee to green. We moved from 15th to 12th on Day 2 and put ourselves in position to secure our sixth top-10 finish of the year heading into Day 3.
Day 3 once again greeted us with cold weather, ranging from 30 to 40 degrees at 8 a.m., with winds off the water. Our scoring leader, Jose Mendez, played one of his most solid rounds of the year in posting a 2-under-par score of 70. That proved to be one of the lowest scores in the entire field that day and also helped him secure another top-20, with a tie for 16th in his sixth collegiate tournament. The others battled on Day 3 with scores of 74 by Lowenstein (T-16), 77's by Gaugert (T-54) and Rachey (T-69), and rounding out with an 82 by Trasamar (T-82). Despite higher than normal scoring, we managed to move up to finish in a tie for 10th place.
I never want my guys to stop learning by asking questions about the golf swing, mental processes or golf course conditions, and I can say that we have assembled a very hard working group of young men. We talk about launch conditions with drivers, grooves in wedges, face rotation with putting, gap spacing in irons...just to mention a few of the great conversations these young men bring up while driving back from Braemar Dome or our Tom Lehman Practice Facility. Our preparation in the offseason is a well-oiled machine producing solid results the past few seasons in the spring and I don't expect anything less from our intelligent group of budding stars in Gopher Golf right now.
Our rankings heading into a spring season that will see us competing in six to eight tournaments, depending on NCAA bids, have us positioned at No. 68 in Golfweek and No. 79 in Golfstat out of the 308 Division I golf teams in the country. We are in great position with a +22 (.500) record that ranks 43rd among those same teams. Our schedule will remain strong as we compete in the Big Ten Match Play at Concession GC, Long Beach State at Virginia CC, Oregon at Emerald Valley GC, Iowa at Finkbine GC, Penn State at the PSU Blue Course, the Big Ten Championships at French Lick Resort, NCAA Regionals and NCAA Finals.
The excitement is growing and I want everyone to be a part of it by following our results on Golfstat.com, Gophersports.com, "Carlson's Corner" and mngolf.org, and support our program's technological needs by donating via GoldenGopherFund.com on the right hand side of the page under Our Sports or calling me anytime at my office at 612-625-5863.
Have a great Holidays from all the players and tremendous support staff at Gopher Men's Golf and finally from my wife, Caese, myself and our 15-month-old, Collins!
Player Feature: Matt Rachey (Fr./Waconia, Minn./Waconia HS)
GopherSports: What are your goals for the 2013-14 season?
Matt Rachey: Practice hard each day and consistently improve each part of my game.
GS: What part of your game is your biggest strength?
MR: Ball striking
GS: Which course in the Twin Cities area is your favorite and why?
MR: Somerset. We played it for qualifying this year and it had some of the coolest looking holes around.
GS: Favorite club in your bag?
GS: Anything interesting you carry around in your golf bag?
MR: A bag of quarters so I can by my Snickers at the turn.
GS: What is your favorite thing about being a Golden Gopher?
MR: Getting to play some of the nicest courses in the country and being able to hang out with the older guys on the team.