How UGA golf teammates bond outside of practice, play at NCAA

The metal chains clinked as Buck Brumlow’s record flew into the basket. Brumlow and his University of Georgia golf teammates Blake Parkman and Maxwell Ford laughed when Parkman’s disc ricocheted off the wooden post holding a birdhouse.

Nearby, Trent Phillips and Ben van Wyk took turns shooting pool inside UGA’s Boyd Golf Center. A fishing rod was waiting in the corner next to a shelf, where framed photos show fish caught by UGA golfers.

When the 20 hours of organized practice allowed by the NCAA is over, many men’s team UGA golfers stay on the golf course – not only to practice golf, but also to play other sports and engage in leisure activities.

It’s a way for the team to de-stress and bond, said junior golfer Nicolas Cassidy, which is especially important in the playoffs. On Friday, the Bulldogs advanced to match play at the Southeastern Conference championship on St. Simons Island.

This year’s team is fitting in well despite the golfers’ different personalities, an improvement from the previous year, Cassidy said.

This proximity has emphasized to golfers that college golf is not just an individual sport.

“I think it’s more that we care more this year about team performance versus individual results,” Cassidy said. “If the team wins, nobody cares how the others played.”

Over the years, the team has fished and played soccer, basketball, baseball, pool, table tennis, chess, cards and, oh yes, golf. Disc golf is the newest addition.

Maxwell Ford throws a disc into the disc golf basket at the entrance to the UGA golf course on April 11.  Ford played disc golf with teammates Buck Brumlow and Blake Parkman after taking their team photo.

“It’s a team bond, but we don’t really categorize it that way,” said freshman Brumlow. “It’s just hanging out and being friends.”

After being “virtually banned” from locker rooms due to COVID-19 precautions, Cassidy said, golfers gained full access to locker rooms and facilities last fall.

After practice, more than half of golfers will stay on the golf course for hours to practice more or take advantage of amenities, head coach Chris Haack said.

“Golf is one of the most time-consuming sports, even when you’re not competing,” Cassidy said.

Despite the lack of free time, golfers took advantage of more opportunities to bond as a team.

Brumlow started playing disc golf before his senior year of high school and now he’s brought disc golf to the UGA golf course. In the locker room, Brumlow’s disc golf cart holds an array of colorful discs. Half a dozen disc golf baskets are set up at the entrance to the UGA golf course, just two minutes away by golf cart.

Brumlow’s biggest concern at the start of his first year was to feel comfortable in a new place. Playing basketball with other golfers last semester and playing disc golf this semester helped with the transition, Brumlow said.

Playing disc golf also develops skills beneficial to golf.

“It takes a lot of creativity to play disc golf,” Brumlow said. “I actually think it might help my golf game.”

Haack echoed this idea. Games like table tennis and pool help golfers understand angles and improve their hand-eye coordination, Haack said.

Haack has moved a pool table from his house into the locker room this season. He said he wanted to provide the team with an outlet to relax.

Behind the pool table is a living room with black leatherette sofas and a coffee table, which contains a chess board. UGA football player figurines stand in ready position in place of traditional chess pieces.

“I challenged one of them to try to beat me at chess; still to this day I haven’t been beaten,” Haack said.

The rhythm trick ! of a table tennis ball can also be heard from outside the Boyd Golf Center.

Whatever sport or game the UGA men’s golf team plays offers benefits to these athletes, some of whom go pro.

“Professional golf can be a bit of a lonely sport,” Haack said. “So it’s really important that these guys really find out about the outlets, the hobbies and the things they like to do when they’re away from the golf course.”

Journalist Sophie Ralph is a student at the University of Georgia’s Carmical Sports Media Institute.

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