Courtesy of Ohio State athletic department
For a young Ohio State men’s golf team, a break from the game was all they needed to get refreshed for the spring season.
And after an up-and-down fall campaign that consisted of a win at the Windon Memorial in September and last-place finishes at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational and Royal Oaks Intercollegiate in October, time away from the green instead of over-working was exactly what coach Donnie Darr wanted.
“You need to put your clubs away for a little bit and get rested up, get rejuvenated,” Darr said. “The best players in the world … they take breaks away from the game to make sure their mind is fresh. It’s great for our guys to get this break, especially for how young our players are.
“I think at the end of the fall, they were pretty tired, so to have part of November, December where they were pretty well-rested and we started working pretty hard here mid-January, I think in our case, that break was much needed and it’s time to get to business.”
The men’s golf team consists of four freshmen, four sophomores and only one senior, Matt Turner. The first several tournaments last fall included three top-3 finishes, but the two last-place finishes stood out during the offseason.
“In our case, because we didn’t finish the season very well, we have to kind of sit with that in our stomach for the last three months of ‘Wow, the last time out we didn’t perform very well,’ so we’re all excited to get a chance out there and redeem ourselves and prove just how good we can be,” Darr said.
Sophomore golfer Grant Weaver, who had three top-20 finishes in five events during the fall, said the difficult finish helped them learn about themselves during the three-month layoff in competition.
“From the fall, we learned we can compete at a high level and beat a lot of good teams,” Weaver said. “We also learned that there’s a lot of room for improvement, so that really gave us a lot of motivation for the offseason with those tough finishes toward the end of fall.”
The young OSU team gained some experience last fall, with Weaver, sophomore Boo Timko, and freshman Tee-K Kelly competing in all five events. However, Darr said the team’s bad play at the end of the season was “a direct correlation to our youth and inexperience.”
“At times, we got a little bit impatient and tried to force things out on the golf course a little bit and that just doesn’t work,” Darr said. “When you do that in big tournaments, you’re not going to fare well, so we got to grow up and mature a little bit and we should be just fine this spring.”
OSU will tee it up Friday and Saturday for the Big Ten Match Play Championship in Brandenton, Fla. Darr said the different style of match-play, in which you focus specifically on defeating one player at a time, doesn’t change the team’s concept.
“Typically match play is a little bit different, but when you’re early in the season like this and you haven’t been playing much, I think the most important thing you can do as a player is just worry about your own game, focus on your own game,” Darr said. “Don’t worry so much about what your opponent’s doing at the time.”
Some of the OSU players agree.
“For me personally, I think it’s best for me to just try to play my own game and don’t worry or react to what the other person is doing,” Timko said. “In some cases strategically, if they blow it way right or are in big trouble, you can play a little more conservatively, but overall it’s just important to play my own game and do the best I can and take care of business.”
Tee-off is set for 8:10 a.m. Friday and semifinals begin at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.