To achieve lofty expectations, UH focused on improving skills with putter
Coming off of their last season in Conference USA and their best finish since 2001, the Cougars are in touch with the hallowed antiquity of their own history. Now in the American Athletic Conference, the experienced team is looking to improve upon what they accomplished last year.
After a trip to the NCAA tournament in 2012-13, UH believes it can get past the regional round. The Cougars are off to a good start in 2014 with one team victory and three top-five finishes in four tournaments. The 2012-13 season, despite wrapping up earlier than they wanted to, left the team and coaches with a solid slate to improve upon.
“Whenever a team is doing well and you get cut short, you’re just really eager to get back to playing and pick up where you left off,” said senior Curtis Reed. “All in all, I think we’ve been working on our course management and trying to sharpen up on some of the things we didn’t do so well. I’m working on putting it better and driving it in the fairway more often.”
Director of Golf Jonathan Dismuke, who earned C-USA Coach of the Year last year, said the team expects much advancement this semester.
“We’re excited about the guys we have, and I don’t necessarily think that we look forward to this semester (more) than I have any other semesters,” Dismuke said. “We’ve got the potential to do some nice things, and it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.”
Associate head coach Chris Hill, a semifinalist for the 2013 Jan Strickland Award, took note of the pause between fall and spring.
“We’re very eager to get back to competing. It’s a long winter for us,” Hill said. “We assessed what goals are going to help our run at the NCAA Championship. Chipping and putting inside a hundred yards was our main focus.”
Putting, which even some of the greatest of golfers have struggled with, is something that coach Hill looks to focus on, especially speed, which in this case means understanding the texture of the green and knowing how far and fast the putt will travel when contact is achieved.
“There are fundamentals of putting. We work on the speed. Our goal for this team, and my goal, is to have the team with the best speed in the country,” Hill said.
The other aspect of golf season — though rarely addressed outside of players, coaches and the more learned fans — is the grueling nature of the travel schedule, with proof positive being UH’s six trips across the nation between now and April 27.
“We (the upperclassmen) do our best to help (the underclassmen) out,” Reed said. “(We) get them accustomed to being able to do schoolwork on the road, the time changes and working on your sleeping patterns and just taking it easy when you’re not on the course. It can be pretty stressful sleeping in an unfamiliar bed and doing schoolwork in a hotel room.”
The team, before being away from Houston for a prolonged swing, will take part in the Bayou City Collegiate Championship from Feb. 21 to 23.