True Student-Athletes

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Happy New Year Gopher Fans!

I am hoping this blog finds each of you enjoying a happy and healthy start to 2014. Spending time with family and friends always feels like it is not long enough, but it certainly helps to re-energize myself to push even harder to achieve my short- and long-term goals. Our push this time of the year as a coaching staff is dedicated to recruitment, engaging with alumni/donors of Gopher Golf and the collection of current student-athletes grades' from the fall semester. I enjoy the many varying job responsibilities that come along with being the head coach at the only Division I golf university in Minnesota.

Go Gophers! Grady Meyer
Go Gophers!
Freshman Grady Meyer turned in the top fall GPA.
Go Gophers!
Our golf team's progress in the classroom is one of the things I am most proud of since my arrival at Minnesota as the head coach. Each semester our cumulative GPA has risen since the fall of 2010. I can proudly say that the cumulative GPA of our current roster is 3.37 after the fall of 2013, and we were able to obtain one of the highest single-semester GPAs in the history of Gopher Golf this fall with a 3.42. To give perspective, our cumulative GPA has risen 0.62 over the past seven seasons. Congratulations go out to our 10 team members, especially Grady Meyer for achieving the first 4.0 in the past decade, and to our academic advisor, Chelsie Schafer, for her countless hours spent overseeing the success of our golf team.  In recruitment, talent is obviously a big factor in who we are looking to bring in but the University of Minnesota and our coaching staff values having outstanding student-athletes, first and foremost!

Recruiting has taken me to Miami, Tampa/St. Petersburg and Managua, Nicaragua, in the last three weeks. The Junior Orange Bowl in Miami hosts a field of the top-ranked International players from more than 40 countries. The Orange Bowl was a regular stop on the junior golf circuit for our own freshman Jose Mendez of Costa Rica. The Biltmore Golf Course near the University of Miami never disappoints and this will hopefully turn out to be a very important recruiting trip as I made a scholarship offer after the final round. Then, I boarded my first ever flight to Central America to recruit the Central American InterClub Junior Championship at Nejapa Golf Club in Managua, Nicaragua.  Jose played in his final junior event of his career and wound up taking home the championship by two strokes against the top players from six Central American countries--Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama.

Recruiting players to Minnesota is a fascinating science. Coach Tyler Stith and I recruit the entire world but streamline our daily recruiting focus to a mix of six to 10 countries ranging from England to Panama, along with a major focus on Midwestern United States prodigies. Minnesota has so much to sell: the great collection of golf courses we have the privilege to play, indoor facilities that include the Golden Valley Chip and Putt to Braemar Dome, a high level of technology with the recent purchase of a TrackMan launch monitor and finally the superior level of college education at the University of Minnesota. The attraction of playing at a program that has won an NCAA Championship and competes in the Big Ten each week helps to draw the raving reviews of national team coaches from six continents.

Because our season is broken up into two separate seasons (Sept. 4-Nov. 10 and Jan. 21-May 4), I want to use the remainder of this blog to highlight a few of our 10 team members who have helped us in the fall to a national ranking of No. 68 out of 308 Division I teams and will play major roles in the spring season leading into the Big Ten and NCAA Championships.

Go Gophers! Alex Gaugert
Go Gophers!
Alex Gaugert
Go Gophers!
Player Feature: Alex Gaugert (Sr./Lake Geneva, Wis./Lake Geneva HS)

GopherSports: What are your goals for the 2013-14 season?
Alex Gaugert: Make the postseason.

GS: What part of your game is your biggest strength?
AG: Ball striking and putting.

GS: Which course in the Twin Cities area is your favorite and why?
AG: Minikhada CC. The location: close and in the city and by the lake, and the golf course layout is very fair and fun.

GS: Favorite club in your bag?
AG: Putter for sure. Making a putt is the best feeling.

GS: Anything interesting you carry around in your golf bag?
AG: A notebook with notes in it, about my swing and about my golf game in general.

GS: What is your favorite thing about being a Golden Gopher?
AG: It is an honor to be a Gopher, with the amazing athletes and people that have come through here.

Genki Hirayama (Sr./Nagasaki, Japan/Highland Park HS)

GS: What are your goals for the 2013-14 season?
GH: Improve in every part of my game.

GS: What part of your game is your biggest strength?
GH: Driving and chipping.

GS: Which course in the Twin Cities area is your favorite and why?
GH: Interlachen Country Club, because I won a tournament there last summer.

GS: Favorite club in your bag?
GH: Titleist 58 degree wedge.

GS: Anything interesting you carry around in your golf bag?
GH: Alignment stick.

GS: What is your favorite thing about being a Golden Gopher?
GH: I get to play great golf courses and practice at one of the best practice facilities in the nation.

Tyler Lowenstein (Jr./Plymouth, Minn./Wayzata HS)

GS: What are your goals for the 2013-14 season?
TL: My goal for the season is to be named All-Big Ten and to get an individual win.

GS: What part of your game is your biggest strength?
TL: Ball striking is my biggest strength,

GS: Which course in the Twin Cities area is your favorite and why?
TL: Windsong Farm is my favorite course in the area because the greens are always good and the course design is awesome.

GS: Favorite club in your bag?
TL: My driver is my favorite club in my bag

GS: Anything interesting you carry around in your golf bag?
TL: I carry a special ball marker in my bag that I use during tournaments. It is a coin my parents gave me a long time ago.

GS: What is your favorite thing about being a Golden Gopher?
TL: We get to travel around the country representing the state of Minnesota. That's a pretty cool thing.

Stay tuned for my next blog that will serve as a preview to the Big Ten Match Play at Concession GC in February. I want to encourage all of you to get more involved in OUR program at Gopher Golf by reading my blogs, frequenting Gophersports.com, watching my video tournament previews, donating to facility plans or team service fund at goldengopherfund.com, volunteering at the 2014 Gopher Invitational and following our team's live scoring each week at Golfstat.com.

Fairways, Fairways, Fairways!

John Carlson

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