Could the Texas region be the most competitive NCCGA region? They are sending the most teams to Nationals this Spring at Bryan Park Golf Course in Greensboro, North Carolina. To get to know these four teams a little better, our NCCGA President Brandon Harrold reached out to Baylor, Texas A&M, TCU, and the Golf Academy of America-Dallas to ask them a few questions.
Baylor Interview with Club President Sam Hall
Q: Tell us a little bit about Baylor’s Club Golf Team.
The Baylor Club Golf Team was started by Matt Brugner five semesters ago. Sam has been with the team for two years and just became the club president this last spring. Sam says that when the team first started, we were pretty bad but each semester we got a little better. This will be Baylor’s 4th straight time headed to nationals.
Q: How does having both an A and B Team help secure Baylor’s dominancy?
Sam and the Baylor Club Golf Team are very proud of bringing two teams to the regional tournaments and they want to continue that tradition. Two teams are better than one because we have a deeper pool of guys for qualifying and there is increased competition. Sam also pushes for two teams because he has had such a great experience with #ClubGolf and he wants as many people as possible to enjoy the fun and competition.
Q: How does it feel to compete in the competitive Texas region?
The competition is fierce and the golfers are all really good. It’s fun to get Baylor intermixed with the bigger names of TCU and Texas A&M. Baylor is very proud of being the all tournament team for the Texas region. Sam says that if you make all tournament team in the Texas region, it’s for sure that the players played some pretty darn good golf.
Q: How does it feel to be #1 and going into the NCCGA Nationals?
There is some additional pressure but the guys are going to stick to their games. They don’t really worry about the rankings too much. However, winning nationals last spring will be a huge booster and recruitment platform for the team for many years to come.
Q: How do you think you guys will end up at nationals?
The team is not worried about their finish or rankings, everybody just wants to play their best golf. If Baylor A team plays their best golf, they feel very confident that they will take home the gold. Sam’s advice to the team is to not take themselves to seriously and to just have a good time.
Texas A&M Interview with Club President Lee Tillman
Q: What is the history of the Texas A&M Club Golf Team
The Texas A&M Club Golf Team was founded in 2012 by two guys who could have played on the varsity golf team at Texas A&M but would rather play #ClubGolf. Texas A&M hasn’t competed in a National Championship in a little bit and they are looking to make a statement at #Battle4Bryan.
Q: Tell us a little bit about the Texas region.
The Texas region is huge, it’s growing, and it is extremely competitive. There’s no question that all of this is mainly attributed to the warm weather. The competition can be fierce at times, but in the end, it is just a blast. With 4 Texas teams heading to Nationals, there’s no doubt that these teams are all fighting for the “Top Dog” Texas team.
Q: How do you think the club will grow over the next few years?
Texas A&M requires a two year period before the school will fund the club and the two year period is now over so next Fall, Texas A&M will be in a much better financial position. Also, the amount of golfers at Texas A&M is enormous. The course on campus is always super crowded and overtime, more and more golfers will come join the team. Lee says that Texas A&M is going to bring both and A and B team to tournaments from now on so watch out Baylor, UT, and GAA – Dallas. Also, the Campus Course, which is located on Texas A&M’s campus was just demolished and re-built and it can now support a higher demand of golfers.
Texas Christian University Interview with CP Guillermo Saldana
This will be TCU’s first Nationals appearance. The Club President, Guillermo Saldana, has been working hard for two years to get a Nationals bid and they finally made it. Guillermo and the team had to scramble like crazy the past week to organize the trip to #Battle4Bryan.
Q: Tell us a little bit about the team.
TCU’s Club Golf Team was founded in Spring 13. The team struggled with many problems the first semester. One time, the team was winning a regional tournament by about 50 shots but didn’t win because one of the teammates didn’t show up and the team got disqualified for not showing up. Also, there’s a pretty good practice facility here that gives good student discounts. Guillermo went to the school’s club fair in Fall 2013 and recruited 35 freshmen to the club golf team.
Q: Some teams make Nationals their first semester while others have a “more curvy” path to NCCGA Nationals. Tell us about your journey to #Battle4Bryan.
We have definitely had some trouble along the way; there was a different problem each semester. The team has a lot of players, it was just tough to get committed people who wanted to travel to tournaments and play competitive golf. It feels so good now to have everything figured out and for us to finally make our first appearance at Nationals. This past week was crazy after getting the long awaiting phone call from Tom (NCCGA Zone Manager) saying that we secured a wild card spot. It was very difficult and crazy at times to get the fundraising to be able to go. We did not want to miss out on our long awaited opportunity to go to Nationals because we were short some money.
Q: How do you think the team will end up at Nationals?
Guillermo thinks that because they have been waiting for this moment for two years, the team will put up a good fight. Guillermo and the team also know that they will have to beat Baylor to win.
Golf Academy of America-Dallas Interview with Coach David Estabrook
The Golf Academies of America have taken the NCCGA by storm. Of the five schools, three will be playing in the National Championship. GAA-Dallas and its players have already proven themselves by qualifying out of this tough region. David Estabrook shared with us some other aspects of how GAA-Dallas qualified and what Texas golf is all about.
Q: As a coach, what is your background in golf?
For years I worked in sales at Ping. I was a top 100 fitter in the country and am familiar with the equipment side of golf and how important that is. I also studied sports psychology in graduate school. This taught me how important mental toughness is for a golfer. At school I currently teach science courses. This background has really gotten me focused on the equipment, mind, and body aspect of the game which I relay to my players.
Q: What are your goals in the seasons to come as a competitor in the NCCGA?
Now that we have been in the NCCGA for both the fall and spring seasons we are familiar with what it takes to compete at the regional level. I'm interested to compete on this National stage to see what competition is like there. In the Texas region it's obvious many of the players could have played at the Division 2 level. This talent impressed me, so as a coach I hope to keep putting my players in a position to continually compete at this level and win some regionals.
Q: With Jordan Spieth being from Dallas, how do you see his Masters win affecting #ClubGolf and golf in general in Dallas?
Jordan has had a tremendous impact in our area. He still plays at courses and works out at gyms here in town. The times I've seen him he's nice as can be and is a great leader for the game. Another great thing about Jordan is he works hard to promote Junior growth. His efforts will help golf's popularity here and around the country. We're also lucky that Dallas has wonderful resources, perfect weather, and world class teachers to support the game.
Q: Lastly, what are you guys most excited about for NCCGA Nationals?
We're going to go and have fun. It's our first experience at this tournament and we just want to go enjoy the game. Our players have plenty of experience in competition, so we will hopefully play well. But we're going to have fun.
The odds are in the Texas Region's favor to have one of their representatives hoisting the trophy come Sunday evening. Thank you to all players and coaches who took the time to share their journeys to the #Battle4Bryan with us.
***Brandon Harrold is the 2015 NCCGA President. Feel free to contact him at email@example.com or on twitter @NCCGAPresident.