North Texas Daily

Mean Green men’s golf freshmen rising after slow start

Mean Green men’s golf freshmen rising after slow start

Mean Green men’s golf freshmen rising after slow start
February 24
23:23 2014

Ehsan Azad // Staff Writer

It is a time of transition for the Mean Green men’s golf team, as the predominantly freshman team tries to stay competitive while dealing with the growing pains associated with youth.

After finishing between sixth and 10th place in the first four tournaments of the year, dating back to September, the team kicked off the spring portion of the season with a third-place finish at its most recent tournament.

In that tournament, the Mean Green scored a final of 885, while the final score of champion University of Oklahoma was 876.

“We’ve done alright considering that we lost four of our top five players from last year,” head coach Brad Stracke said. “We have a lot of freshmen playing.”

Six of the 10 players are freshmen and have been a core part of the team this season. At this point last season, the team hadn’t finished worse than sixth place at any tournament and went on to finish first at the Sun Belt Conference championship tournament.

While the early results haven’t been as successful, Stracke said his team has slowly improved over the course of the season.

“We are getting better every tournament,” Stracke said. “Finishing third in our last tournament was great, considering we had the 11th and 25th ranked teams in the country there and just about beat both of them.”

The freshmen quickly noticed that it was going to be different for them playing golf at UNT.

“It is a totally different ball game compared to junior golf,” freshman Cory Churchman said. “At first it was tough, but the older guys have really helped us out.”

Churchman said everything was elevated and the competition is much tougher than he had anticipated, which contributed to the slow start back in the fall. Now that a few tournaments have passed, he feels like the freshmen are getting better.

“Coming in, not knowing anything about college golf, it was pretty difficult,” Churchman said. “After that first round, you realized what it was all about.”

Another aspect that helps is the tough approach Stracke takes to the freshmen. Churchman said that’s one thing he loves about Stracke’s coaching.

“If you’re not working hard, he’s going to let you know,” Churchman said. “That is exactly what I needed in a coach.”

Stracke takes different approaches to his younger players, as he’s noticed they all handle difficult situations in unique ways.

“It’s different for every freshman you get,” Stracke said. “You got some that come in and make an immediate impact and then some take their time and make their impact in their second or third years.”

A strict coaching approach will help shape up a freshmen core that he and the players believe have the talent to get ranked next year and beyond.

“We should be very good in the next few years,” Stracke said. “Eventually they figure out the competition and soon you’re a top-20 or 30 team yourself.”

Despite the challenges of developing young players, Stracke said the team isn’t relying too heavily on the four veteran players and that it is a full-team approach to every tournament. While Stracke believes the team is on an even field, the veterans on the team are stepping up to help the younger players get adjusted to playing in college.

“They are all good enough players,” junior Jason Roets said. “It is just about to get used to tournament life.”

Roets said the veterans remember how tough it was coming in and they are there for these freshmen, answering any questions they might have. Churchman said the older players have been helpful in the transition, even inviting them over for dinner so they didn’t have to eat the dorm food.

Roets said he is already seeing their growth as players, despite the fact they are new to the college golf life.

The expectations set by the Stracke are not too grand for the freshmen, who all believe they can hit those lofty goals.

“The sky is the limit,” Churchman said. “We have the talent, we just have to keep practicing to get better and have more experience.”

Feature photo: Freshman Cory Churchman drives off the tee at Trophy Club Country Club in Southlake on Sept. 10. The team scored its best of the year with 278 yesterday during the second round of the John Hoyt Invitational in Jacksonville, Fla. Photo courtesy of Rick Yeatts.

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