Although many might consider golf a walk in the park and some might even question golfers’ athletic prowess, those who reach the college level must keep in excellent shape and learn to deal with various forms of pressure.
“This is not recreational golf. This is collegiate team golf,” said Sandy Terry, Tyler Junior College head men and women’s golf coach. “The players all carry their own bag, and there’s no golf carts and no caddies.”
This is significant in that the tournaments can be quite lengthy and the weight of the golf bags can eventually wear on the players. A typical round of golf is 18 holes long, but some events are much longer. The players have an allowed allotment of 14 clubs and must carry extra balls, which all add to the weight of the bag.
“It can get a bit straining after a while, when we play the 36-hole events,” said David Hills, a sophomore from Sydney, Australia. “But we have workouts and exercises to make sure we’re ready for that. We hit the weight room and we do a lot of stretching, ab workouts, and leg workouts.”
One of the players on the women’s team echoed similar sentiments.
“We have to walk, and I carry my clubs the whole 18 holes,” said Lisa Frauenberger, freshman from Grapeland. “It’s pretty heavy. It’s stressful and gets to hurting towards the end, but you’ve got to just push through it. I run about two miles a day and do a lot of ab workouts and workouts strengthening my wrists and arms, and that’s helped me a lot.”
There are also other differences besides the level of conditioning collegiate golfers strive to maintain. In team golf, the schools field five players per tournament and the top four scores are tallied to give a team their cumulative score. Having won seven collegiate national championships since 1994, along with numerous runner-up and top 10 finish, the golf program at TJC has garnered a tradition of excellence.
“When you’re playing collegiate golf, you’re playing for championships,” said Terry. “When you miss a shot, you not only let yourself down, but also your teammates.”
In addition to the many hours spent refining their craft, players must often play through soreness while managing their full-time school workload.
“These athletes put their time in, not only in practices, but also in their academics,” said Devan Lemrick, athletic training graduate assistant. “They definitely work hard and push any pain aside for the benefit of their sport.”
Some of the players hope to continue their education and their golf careers. This can lead to yet another aspect of the stress involved in playing at the collegiate level.
“When I get done here, I plan on transferring to a four-year college,” said Chelsea Crain, sophomore, from Lufkin. “I have a few offers, but it’s definitely high pressure because every round counts, every shot counts. Just one bad round can ruin your average and ruin your chances.”
Still more have even loftier hopes and added self-imposed pressure.
“College golf is really serious,” said Ryan Mulvany, sophomore, from Bundaburg, Australia. “It’s a real steppingstone for anyone trying to go on and play professionally. It’s quite competitive. You’ve got to be at your best at all times to really stand out.”
For information on tournament dates and times, please go to apacheathletics.com