Spring is returning, and with it returns golf season; the Bruins golf team is well into its spring set of meets for the semester.
But what does being a member of a collegiate golf team entail?
“It’s almost impossible to explain the sport because until you’ve done it you can’t really know how hard it is,” said senior Clay Wiginton, who joined the golf team last year.
The Bruins hold to a practice schedule of 18 holes of golf twice a week plus additional practices at driving ranges or par-3 courses. While they do not have a set location for practice, the team frequents courses at Pebble Creek Golf Club, Furman University, Thornblade Club and Green Valley Country Club. When not at an official golf team practice, team members are working on their own to perfect their game.
“We’re doing something every day, but it’s not necessarily organized,” Wiginton said.
Players must also be able to walk and carry their bag of clubs, sometimes in intense heat, for long periods of time.
Unlike other collegiate sports, like basketball and soccer, where you are training to beat the other team, golf differs in that you are not essentially competing against other players.
“I think this is the only sport where you compete against the course instead of people,” Wiginton said. “We’ve been able to develop great relationships with other guys on the course because while you’re competing against them, you’re all competing against the course.”
Wiginton said the hardest part of playing collegiate golf is finding the balance between golf and school. Since it’s necessary to play golf during the day, team members often miss class for matches and must make up work during the week while still playing golf and attending classes.
“It’s one of the most time-committed sports because when we go play 18 holes, that’s five hours of your day,” Wiginton said. “And then when we travel, we could leave on Friday and not get back until Tuesday night. That’s been challenging.”
Also unlike other Bruins sports, golf matches do not usually have a high audience attendance.
“I think we all wish it was more of a spectator sport,” Wiginton said. “It’s difficult because we travel a lot and there are no home tournaments necessarily. But Coach has done a great job with Twitter, and Jonny Gamet as well, just getting the articles out there. There’s also a lot of support from alumni.”
While there are challenging moments, there are also many aspects of being on the team which Wiginton enjoys. Because golf meets usually require long trips, team members have the chance to get to know each other well and bond as a team. Micah Gold, another member, referred to the team as a “brotherhood.”
“The trips are probably the most fun we have,” Wiginton said. “We’ve all developed close relationships on the team. You can develop relationships on any team, but the golf team is smaller. There are only seven of us, so that’s helped us get closer as friends.”
The long match hours also allow team members to bond with other college players.
“It’s just really cool the relationships you can build because you spend five hours together in one day and then the same the next day,” Wiginton said. “There’s a lot of time between shots where you can just talk and become good friends.”
The team also enjoys playing under Coach Dennis Scott and highly respect him.
“Everybody loves him,” Wiginton said. “He’s the perfect coach. He makes you want to play well for him. That’s our motivation. He doesn’t put pressure on us with anything he says. He doesn’t motivate us with words, but more of just how he acts. When he says something, you listen to what he’s saying because it’s almost always important.”
Most importantly, the players take advantage of the opportunity to use the sport they love as an outlet to serve God.
“I’ve had opportunities to talk to guys about the Gospel a little bit and be a good influence,” Wiginton said. “Other coaches have also used our team as an example of what would be a better response to a situation because Coach has really made sure that we’re playing to God’s glory, and that can be done just through our reactions on the golf course.”