Tech has produced more than its fair share of 18-hole masters. Those in need of evidence need not look further than PGA competitor Matt Kuchar. He graduated from Tech with multiple All-ACC accolades in 1999 and has since risen to professional stardom, capped by a Players’ Championship win in 2012.
Thus exists the impetus for Tech’s unheralded but ambitious Club Golf team, headed by third-year Sterling DeSantis.
While not as time-consuming as Division I golf, Club Golf is often still a major time commitment. DeSantis said that practice happens “three days a week, from 3 o’clock to about 8 o’clock,” and the team participates in “a couple of weekends a semester.”
Yet this rigorous schedule has not been enough to turn away newcomers eager to pick up amateur careers where they left off in high school.
DeSantis’ team is diverse in more ways than one. It brings players from different ages, experience levels and interests together to enjoy a common pastime. Some members comprise the executive board and are highly competitive while others enjoy the camaraderie that comes with being a part of the group.
“Of course … you start bonding with each other. You get to know each other,” DeSantis said. “It’s cool: outside of competition, it’s still a team atmosphere … we do a lot of stuff outside of practice and competing together, which is nice.”
Unfortunately, like many club sports, golf receives little fanfare among the student base.
“There’s so much people don’t know,” DeSantis said. “I just don’t think a lot of people know about us on campus — that there is a Club Golf team, that we compete nationally, that we compete regionally against other large schools in the southeast.”
Indeed, Tech plays its fair share of local powerhouses, including two from Alabama. The University of Alabama and Auburn University loom large on the Jackets’ schedule each year along with the University of Tennessee.
Despite stiff competition, expectations run high for Tech.
“We’ve just become a lot more competitive as a team … and we’re just really hoping this semester we can make use of that talent,” said safety officer Sam King. “Maybe win a couple of tournaments and … make our way to nationals, which is in Disney [World]
Their hope is not entirely unfounded. While not yet on the same level as the aforementioned top three southeastern schools, the young Tech squad has quickly vaulted up the school rankings, jumping 50 spots nationally in Spring 2016. Despite playing in a competitive region, the team has achieved remarkable success, including a win at the Spring Break Open at Myrtle Beach this year.
Whether such aspirations become reality is a question that the coming season will answer for Tech’s Club Golf team. They likely will not receive the attention that the men’s and women’s golf teams will garner over the course of the season. A long climb is left ahead for the team to reach its lofty hopes.
In the meantime, DeSantis, Martin and the rest of the group have put themselves in prime position for the 2016–17 campaign. and perhaps beyond as Club Golf keeps swinging on.