‘Project 17’: The Cougars pursuit of a championship
The Houston men’s golf team is not just any program.
The Cougars are one of the most successful collegiate programs in history. They boast 20 conference championships, 16 team national championships and eight individual national championships, trailing only Yale University as the most successful men’s golf program in the nation.
Concluding the 2014-2015 season with one tournament title, fifth place in the American Athletic Conference Championships and finishing the NCAA championships in a tie for 26th place is not a bad year for a golf program.
While last year’s labors are commendable, Houston paled in comparison to the historical successes of the program.
The high expectation has the current team yearning to do better and earn a place with the legendary Cougar golfers who came before them.
“Obviously the standard here is to win a national championship, so 26th place doesn’t necessarily move the needle,” Director of Golf and head coach Jonathan Dismuke said. “I think we had a little better team than we showed last year…”
As is the case with all collegiate programs, one of the first hurdles in improving on the previous year is overcoming the loss of key seniors in the offseason.
Heading into this new season, the team will be without two of their best players from the past few years in Kyle Pilgrim and Roman Robledo.
“I don’t ever think of it as replacing guys, because you can’t replace a guy like Roman, you can’t replace a guy like Kyle,” Dismuke said. “You’re just training guys to move into roles, and through that we are going to have guys step up to fill those voids.”
Returning seniors Vincent Martino and Blair Hamilton were both key pieces for UH last season and are excited to lead the team in their senior year.
“That is just the natural course of college golf. People graduate and you’re thrust into leadership roles,” Hamilton said. “I’m ready for it, and I know Vin is too. I look forward to leading this team onto great things.”
The Cougars have set their sights back on national success this season, but getting there will be no easy task, and the team is looking for any avenue to gain an advantage when they hit the course.
One new tactic that will be employed this season is the use of an app called Edufii.
This app is a digital training journal that allows athletes, coaches and trainers to connect and collaborate on things like swing motion and overall technique.
“It’s a fantastic way to log your training and really track your progress,” Hamilton said. “When things are going well, or going bad, you can look back and ask yourself ‘what have I been doing? What needs to stay and what needs to change?’”
Despite coming off what was a down year by program standards, the players and coaches have their sights set on closing out the 2015-2016 season as the best in the game once again.
“Obviously we want to win the national championship and get our 17th. That’s been our goal since I got here: ‘Project 17’ and that’s what we’ve always been shooting for,” Martino said.
“Every year I feel like the program has gotten a little bit better and a little bit stronger…If we continue to do what we’ve been doing and continue to work hard, then I think we’ve got a real good shot at it.”