In a game so based on individual play, Michigan golf coach Andrew Sapp and his team have managed to make the game of golf a team effort.
After all, it would be easy for such a small group to be close especially because they spend so much time on the road together. This closeness can also be a great help, with the players getting to know their teammates games and helping each other to strategize. This year, Sapp has also been using challenges within the team to help motivate the golfers. The players are divided into a Maize and a Blue team. They compete every day in practice, offseason training and even a mini Ryder Cup.
According to Sapp, a good start this year is crucial, and it should be no problem considering the team’s abilities.
“I think this year our team is much deeper,” Sapp said. “We have much more experience; instead of one senior, we have four.”
Seniors like Christian Vozza and Brandon Duff have proved to be great leaders, both on and off the course. Vozza ended the 2004-05 season as a 2005 Men’s Big Ten Golf Sportsmanship nominee and Duff averaged 75.67 strokes per round.
“They really lead the younger guys,” Sapp said. “The freshmen and sophomores need good guidance.”
That’s not to say the freshmen this year can’t hold their own. In fact, freshman Bill Rankin qualified for this season’s very first tournament. His career at Michigan follows an impressive high school career, including a spot on the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association (MIGCA) Golf Super Team in 2004 and the 2003 MIGCA Division I All -State Team.
This fierce competition from the underclassmen benefits the whole team. With new additions to the team working hard to win spots, the older players are golfing better than ever to keep their spots.
But Sapp has more in mind for his players than just the game of golf. It’s this competition and drive that no doubt will propel the men’s golf team to success in their lives, whether in golf or in their careers.
“Forty years from now, they’ll remember their time here at the University of Michigan,” Sapp said. “They will always be Michigan men and take pride in that. They’ll look back with fond memories and look at it as a time of great personal growth.”