It’s all about “going through the process and sticking to one’s routine.” That’s the mantra imparted to the players of Jimmy Stobs, the triumphant head golf coach for the Barry University, who won their second consecutive NCAA Division II national championship last Friday at The Meadows on the campus of Grand Valley State University. Barry won the title by winning three of five medal/matches against archrival and neighboring Floridian school Nova Southeastern.
“I tell our team to go through the process for each and every shot: pick the target, execute the shot and hit it,” said Stobs who also won a national title for the Buccaneers at The Meadows in 2007. “We don’t want our players to be thinking about rings and results. Instead, I want them to protect par and control their emotions which is so important at a tough set-up here at The Meadows.”
In winning back-to-back national championships, Barry won seven tournaments—a school record—this season. When asked what’s made a difference in building a national Division II golf powerhouse, Stobs quickly said, “It’s the players.” He also described the key traits of a champion golfer. “The best players never take a shot off,” said Stobs, “whether it be in practice or even playing by themselves. They go through the process and they hit it. You want to take what you do in practice and do it at the Finals. You stay consistent.”
Barry’s roster featured the top ranked Division II player in the country, Adam Svensson (British Columbia, Canada), fellow All-American Mario Beltran (Valencia, Spain), Berry Jole (Netherlands), Scott Smyers (Florida) and Grand Rapids native Jared Dalga who transferred to the Miami Shores college campus from Eastern Michigan University.
“It’s very cool to win it here in my hometown and on a course I’m so familiar with,” said Dalga who claimed the 2012 Grand Valley Amateur Championship at The Meadows, designed by Michael Hurdzan.
Meanwhile, another back-to-back title was recorded as Florida Southern’s Tim Crouch defended his individual crown by firing an even-par 74-71-68-213, one stroke better than Svensson and two shots ahead of Nova’s Santiago Gomez.
A native of Ohio, Crouch grew up in golf business. “My family owns a public golf course in Mount Vernon which is an hour northeast of Columbus,” said Crouch, a senior who will graduate in December with a degree in Physical Education. “I literally grew up on the golf course, cutting greens and raking bunkers.”
Crouch won the Ohio Junior Championship and also was a prep standout. “I heard about Florida Southern as a high school senior from a friend. So I went down to visit the campus and fell in love with it. It’s a long way from home but I knew if I wanted to improve my game that was the place for me.”
This was the eighth NCAA Division II golf championship to be held at The Meadows which opened in 1994. Organizers cited their own champions responsible for another highly successful and well-received tournament.
“The NCAA told us that no one comes close to doing what we do in terms of hosting a national championship,” said Don Underwood, head golf professional at The Meadows who recently stepped down as GVSU’s men’s golf coach. Underwood lavished praise on tournament volunteers, totaling 118 individuals, who assisted in hospitality, spotting, and scorekeeping. Volunteer coordinator was Dave Tanis. “He is the driving force and we are so lucky to have him.”
General Manager Terry Sack also complimented the efforts of course superintendents Ron Dahlin and Jeff Bodziak and their staff members. “We had such a late start to spring and it impacted the course preparation for the championship,” said Sack. “In the past, the staff had five to six weeks to prep the course but this year due to the long winter, they only had three weeks to prep because the grass wasn’t growing. The timetable really got compressed but they did an awesome job.”
Like Stobs’s winning team, the organizers at Grand Valley State University and The Meadows don’t take execution of a major championship for granted. They go through the process and follow the critical routines.
It all starts again next May when The Meadows hosts its ninth NCAA golf championship, the Women’s Division II Finals. You can bank on it being ready.
Photos courtesy of the NCAA and The Meadows