Coastal Men's Golf Opens Season Sept. 18-19
CONWAY - The Coastal Carolina men's golf team will open the 2017-18 season, as well as begins the era of first-year Chanticleer head coach Jim Garren, Sept. 18-19 at the Janney Invitational in Richmond, Va., an event hosted by VCU.
The Chanticleers have been in preseason mode since starting August 24, giving then nearly a month to prepare for the opener. But that time and Coastal's access to premier golf courses will benefit the team moving forward.
"Having a long camp was very productive," Garren said. "We've been able to get in a lot of rounds of golf and take advantage of lot of practice time. Also, our course rotation here along the Grand Strand features some fantastic venues that are extremely challenging and demanding."
However, the long preseason was not only a benefit for the players. It was a benefit for Garren and his assistant Jeremy Alcorn as well.
"We are a new coaching staff and we have three new guys on a roster of only seven," Garren said. "Any time you have a new staff and new guys on the team there is a certain adjustment period for everyone. We wanted to change the culture from day one and make it known that we were going to do things a certain way around here. We've tried to challenge them as much as possible early so, when the season opens, we are ready to compete no matter what the course or conditions may be. While the guys have responded, we have not been thrown into a tournament situation yet and it's definitely different when you tee it up for real."
While Coach Garren has done a lot to change the culture, mindsets and more, the goals for Coastal golf will remain the same with the ultimate goal being a return to the national championship.
"Our goals will be the same this year as they will be every year. We want to win the Sun Belt championship," Garren said. "That's the most special tournament of the year and conference championships mean so much. Being a new staff with a new team will not lower our expectations. Those are just excuses and I do not believe in excuses. Everything we have done from day one is focused on getting better. If we get better every day, then we automatically get better throughout the year. This is a process."
The Chanticleers have a good foundation to build upon last season as junior Luis Ruiz, who posted a season scoring average of 73.64, was named All-Sun Belt Conference and reached a playoff for the conference's individual title last spring.
"Luis is a solid golfer and knows how to work his way around a golf course," Garren said. "He has experienced success at this level and now it is just a matter of him reaching that success on a more consistent basis. He is a very steady player and does not get in to too much trouble the way he plays. Luis' ball-striking is getting better by the day and he does a nice job limiting his mistakes."
Thadd Obecny II, a senior, is one of two Chants to play in all 10 events lasts season and, while he finished third on the team in scoring, he was less than half a stroke behind Ruiz with an average of 73.96. He was Coastal's top finisher three times and had a team-best nine rounds of par or better last season.
"Thadd has made some great progress over the first month as well," Garren said. "He has the tools to be a very good player as he is a good ball-striker and he has a very nice short game. I think he has definitely benefited from our system and we should see some nice things out of him this season."
With coaches Garren and Alcorn coming on so late in the recruiting process, the staff turned to two students -- Morgan Deneen and Andrew Roy -- from the University's PGA Golf Management Program. While the two have not played in NCAA events, Deneen and Roy are both seniors and have a lot of golf experience and success on their resumes.
"The biggest surprise of the preseason has definitely been Morgan," Garren said. "His maturity with how he manages his golf game is that of a high-level player. He is not only talented but he understands how to play golf the proper way. We are very fortunate to have picked him up and he is going to be a very big factor into what we accomplish this year.
"Andrew is super talented and has all the tools to be a good player," Garren continued. "He is learning, at this level, you can't just go out and out-ball strike people to win. There is a lot more that goes into it."
The only other upperclassman is junior Daniel Overas. He has played in 11 events with a career scoring average of 77.43 through his first two seasons. However, he has responded to the challenges set before him by the coaching staff and will be counted to be a steady performer this fall and beyond.
"Daniel had a nice camp overall," Garren said. "He's been very solid and at, or near the top, in a lot of the things we have done. Outside of Morgan, Daniel has been the biggest surprise throughout our camp. He is a good putter, which is huge at our level. He is very routine oriented, stays within himself and is one of our hardest workers in all facets of our program: golf, weight room/conditioning and academics."
States Fort, a sophomore, played in six events last season and showed he could shoot low rounds. However, he was not able to string them together consistently as he posted a 75.25 scoring average in his rookie season.
"States has a nice short game and definitely saves shots around the greens," Garren said. "He is going through some changes in his game as he has identified some areas where he knows he wants to get better. He has been committed to trying to make those changes."
The 2017-18 roster is rounded out by a highly-touted freshman, Jonathan Goth-Rasmussen. The native of Denmark has played at the highest level of junior golf internationally. He helped Team Europe defeat Team USA in the Junior Ryder Cup and he played in a Ryder Cup-style event for Team Europe versus Team Great Britain and Ireland.
"Jonathan has a ton of talent and a lot of golf shots in his bag," Garren said. "He is an artist with wedges around the green and knows how to hit all the shots. He is a big, strong guy and he can hit the ball hard. As he continues to mature and as he gets experience playing at the big-time collegiate level, the sky is the limit for Jonathan. He has the pieces. It is just a matter of putting them all together."
Coastal has always played one of the most competitive schedules and this year will be no different. Of course the highlight of the schedule each year is CCU's own General Hackler Championship. The Hackler has featured some of the top teams and current PGA stars in the past and, with its move to the Dunes Golf & Beach Club, the event is even more of a showcase as many of the nation's top teams lineup to play at one of nation's finest courses.
"Overall, I like our schedule for this year," Garren said. "The fall events have a nice variety of courses which should offer us some different types of tests. We go to some places where players are going to have to make a lot of birdies to have a chance and we will also have a couple courses where par is a great score.
"The spring schedule features traditional events with some very strong fields," Garren added. "Namely, the Hackler field this year is great as there are five preseason top 25 teams. Among them are Texas A&M and Georgia Teach, each of whom have won events this fall already. The Aggies also have one of the top amateurs in the nation in Cameron Champ, who helped USA win the Walker Cup and made the cut in the US Open this year. LSU, the 2015 NCAA Champion, is loaded again while South Carolina and Virginia are several of the really good teams we have coming to our turf, the Dunes Club."