Who doesn’t remember an earthquake or fire drill in elementary school? Lining up quietly, marching single-file to the black top, waiting for the all-clear bell.
The drills were repeated over and over so that in the event of an actual emergency everyone knew what to do. No panic. No rush. Just do what needed to be done.
The principle is the same for the UC Davis men’s golf team, whose coach Cy Williams uses several criteria — including qualifying rounds — to determine his five-man squad for tournaments. The qualifying rounds pit Aggie against Aggie in tournament conditions: lining up a putt, marching up a fairway for the second shot, waiting for the clunk as the ball drops into the cup.
“I love the idea of qualifying,” said UCD junior Josh Granger. “It’s really helpful. The only thing it can’t prepare you for is being in the lead. You can lead the team, but it’s not the same as being the leader of an event. In a tournament, there are 80 guys chasing you instead of five.”
The strategy is working for the young Aggies. As the defending Big West Conference champions, UCD expected that sophomore Matt Hansen — who won the NCAA West Regional last year and qualified for the national championship tournament — would get help from players like former Davis High standout Tyler Raber along with juniors Granger and Andrew Haggen in the early part of the 2011 season.
However, Raber is redshirting this season and Haggen is sidelined with an ankle injury, leaving Hansen and Granger with a young supporting cast for the fall portion of the season, which ends next week with the Pacific Invitational.
“They’re a young team, but they are very talented,” Williams said. “Our guys definitely help each other. If they see things, they help each other. They also help each other by competing. They know they have to get better to get into the lineup.”
Granger led the way for UCD in the Alister MacKenzie Invitational at Fairfax, which ended Oct. 18. He shot an even-par three-round score of 213 to tie for 37th place, and was followed by Hansen (214, 42nd), Matt Seramin (215, 44th), Daniel Covrig (216, 48th), and freshman Mike Brockington (222, 70th), who was making his Aggie debut.
At a previous tournament, The Prestige at PGA West which UCD co-hosted in early October, freshman Luke Vivolo played his way into the UCD lineup, behind Granger, Hansen and Seramin.
“My first year, we didn’t do as much qualifying,” Granger said. “Now, we’re always fighting for our roster spot, and I think it’s really, really helped us. It’s like a constant competition so when we get to the actual competition, you’re used to it. I’m really glad we started it.”
To help make qualifying feel even more real, Williams added scoreboards on the course.
“It’s a great idea because we see them at tournaments,” Granger said. “You can either look at it and get motivated, or you can learn to ignore it. It’s another way of preparing for tournament play.”
— Reach Kim Orendor at firstname.lastname@example.org