It’s been an unusual summer for Andrew Sapp.

Paul Wong
Andy Matthews was one senior starter who left the team this past summer.

After officially taking over as head coach of the men’s golf team on July 1, the 31-year-old immediately hit the recruiting trail hard over the next two months scouting and recruiting high school golfers.

As Sapp tried selling Michigan to the nation’s best high school golfers throughout July and August, there was one thing he had yet to do: Physically meet everyone on this year’s team.

“With all the NCAA rules in place we can’t start practicing until the first day of school,” said Sapp, who replaced the recently retired Jim Carras. “We had our first team meeting last Friday and, although I’ve been calling all of our guys over the summer, this was the first time I was able to actually meet a few of them.”

But make no mistake. Sapp’s players will be seeing a lot of him this year and in the years to come. And if Sapp has his way, so too will many of the country’s best collegiate golfers.

One of the first things Sapp has done since coming to Michigan has been to revamp the Wolverines’ fairly soft schedule. Instead of facing mostly teams from the Midwest with the occasional tournament in California or Florida, the Wolverines are now scheduled to face 16 of the nation’s top 20 programs.

“I wanted to get our kids to be playing All-Americans, and that’s who they are going to get,” Sapp said.

If anyone knows about what it’s like to be around All-Americans, it’s Sapp.

Between 1993 and 1998 Sapp helped coach two All-Americans as an assistant at his alma mater, North Carolina, and coached four All-Americans over the last four years as an associate coach at Purdue. In nine years of assistant coaching, Sapp’s teams have been to eight NCAA Championships.

Michigan has only been to the NCAA Championships once in the past 30 years (1997) and hasn’t won a Big Ten title in 50 years.

“We are going to continue to improve. To guess where we stack up against another team is difficult at this time,” Sapp said. “This is a rebuilding year because we don’t have a lot of experience.”

The Wolverines lost three starters from last season’s team including Andy Matthews, who led the team with a 73.9 scoring average.

As for now, Sapp will try to bring the men’s golf program up to the elite status that many other Michigan sports have achieved.

“This is a real exciting time here,” Sapp said. “There is so much to do here academically and socially. If I were a student I’d love to come here.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *