The Texas Region is one of the most competitive in the country. The region has quickly grown and it now includes 10 teams. Regional Tournament 1, played at Cross Timbers Golf Course in Azle, Texas, lived up to the hype. Defending National Champions Baylor were only able to come up with a 3rd place finish. Led by Carson Stepler, firing (-3) for the weekend, UT Austin was able to secure the 1st place finish. The other team to finish ahead of Baylor: Golf Academy of America – Dallas.
I spoke with David Estabrook, the coach of the Golf Academy college golf team, to find out how the new team was able to play so well. I learned that the guys from the Golf Academy are not content with just showing up and competing. The Golf Academy college golf team wants to make it to Nationals this semester.
Q: Have students from your academy played together in competitive college golf tournaments in the past?
No, this was the first time they have competed together as a team. We have weekly tournaments for the academy where they compete against each other but we have never played as a team.
Q: What is the typical golf background of the students you work with?
Some of the students played varsity golf in high school, but not all of them. A few have some experience playing varsity college golf but left their teams for a variety of reasons.
Q: How did you find the level of competition in the NCCGA?
The NCCGA is exactly what the students were looking for competitively speaking; it gives the players something extra to work towards.
Q: Do you think your team will make it to Nationals this year?
We have quite a hurdle to make it to Nationals. The second tournament is in UT’s backyard so they have that advantage. If we win the second tournament but UT comes in second, we will have to beat them by 12 strokes and that’s going to be difficult.
Q: You guys were leading going into Day 2, what happened?
Fatigue, course management, experience, all these things were a factor. The guys wanted to do well and wanted to go to Nationals but we came up short.
Q: What’s your strategy for the second tournament?
We are going to be holding two rounds of qualifying during two Mondays leading up to the tournament. The goal is to have 5 players who score at 150 or lower. If 5 players shoot 150, we will have a good showing.
Q: Are you guys happy with being ranked #14 in the country?
The team is really happy with the rankings but we had an opportunity to get one step closer to Nationals. As a coach, I’m learning as I go, scouting out other teams and seeing what we need to do to succeed. The goal is to make it to Nationals our first semester. If we’re able to make it to Nationals, we can see what’s going on at a national level and start putting the pieces in place for the spring.
**David Estabrook is a full time golf instructor at the Golf Academy of America – Dallas. Students at the Golf Academy work towards an associate degree in golf course management and operations by participating in a combination of classes, golf instruction, and hands on application. For more information, visit http://www.golfacademy.edu/
**Tom Thrift is a Zone Manager for the NCCGA and supports the club golf teams in the Texas Region.