Q&A with UC Men's Golf Head Coach Doug Martin
UC junior Baxter Reeves (left) with head coach Doug Martin.

May 19, 2014

UC men's golf coach Doug Martin looks back at the key moments and performers of the 2013-14 Bearcats campaign.

What was the key to the season?

“The key was what transpired after last year’s season when I addressed the team and said with new players coming in everyone needs to raise the bar.

“The improvements Jared Howard made from his sophomore to junior season were significant. Anytime you take five strokes off your scoring average it changes the environment of the team. His leadership and desire to get better made him a role model for a lot of players on this team. Plus, with the additions of Jared O’Kelley, Baxter Reeves and John Michael O’Toole, they obviously brought a resume here and played up to their abilities.

“For the first time since I’ve coached here we had five players that were contributing every week and we had consistency amongst those five players.  When you have five players and your lowest stroke averages is 72.86 and your highest is 74.46 there is a lot of consistency there and I think that’s what really changes for us.”

How was Jared Howard able to lower his stroke average by five strokes?

“For his first two years here Jared Howard was very average to below average with his scoring shots –approach shots into the green from 150 yards and in. Basically, what he did (this season) was he started hitting those shots closer to the flag and making more birdies.  As a result of making more birdies, his score dropped.

“I don’t think statistically, his fairway percentage or his green percentage changed but certainly his putting average changed and that’s because he hit iron shots closer to the flag. He started hitting a lot of shots 12 feet and in, giving himself a chance to make more birdies and consequently lowering his scores.”

What did some of the newcomers bring to the program?

“What Baxter (Reeves) and John Michael (O’Toole) brought to the program was a competitive fire. They are both very confident in their abilities. One of the things that was lacking in this program was confidence. An attitude of this is what we’re here to do and they did it. It was a great example to a lot of players on the team.

“They brought an attitude to the program and that’s what you absolutely must have in golf. You are out there on an island and if you don’t have confidence in your ability, you are going to get run over.  They brought that confidence to the program that we haven’t had in the past.”

Was there a tournament results that was key to the season?

“Anytime you win a tournament it’s important to your season. Winning at Cleveland State was a huge hurdle for us. We got off to a good start to the fall season at Marshall, having a chance to win. But I don’t think we played great. We played much better at Louisville. But it all came together at Cleveland State.  We shot 29-under par. We had five guys contributing. It really showed the guys what they are capable of doing. 

“The icing on the cake was our effort at Old Waverly. Finishing second to Mississippi State by one shot was another tournament that showed us what we can do against a really good field. When you do things like that and play against teams that maybe you thought you couldn’t beat before and then you beat them it really adds confidence to the players.”

Who were some of the other important contributors this season?

“Jared O’Kelley and Emerson Newsome are the future of the program after the 2014-15 season. It’s been great for both of them to be mentored by the three underclassmen (Jared Howard, Reeves and O’Toole). They learned a lot this year. In another year, they are going to be the leaders that have to step up and carry the program into the future and build on the momentum that’s been created.

“Jared O’Kelley has a chance to be a really, really good player. To be able to get into the lineup and compete as a freshman is amazing. He is the first freshman in program history to average under 74. He’s learned a lot this year and improved his course management skills.

“Emerson just has to keep growing and getting better.  He’s gotten better every year since he’s been here. He’s lowered his stroke average by almost a shot and half this year from last.

“Everyone just needs to keep doing their part and getting better. Even some of the guys who didn’t play much this year should know their time will eventually come and they need to be prepared when their number is called.”

How do the improvements made this season impact the program’s future?

“It shows us our capabilities and our potential. No question the addition of scholarships has been the huge boost that we needed to get over the hump. It has allowed us to recruit a little bit more on the national scene and not rely so much on just Ohio players. With 13 or 14 Division I golf programs in the state of Ohio, talent is only going to go so far.

“Now the challenge that we have is to continue to upgrade and strengthen our schedule. That’s one of the reasons why we didn’t get a regional berth this year was because we had a couple of tournaments that hurt our strength of schedule. Moving forward, that is something, as a coach, I will not allow to happen. Last year’s schedule was the best one we’ve had since I’ve been here but it’s still not to level that it needs to be. We’ve all ready upgraded our fall schedule for next year and we’re still trying to finalize our spring season. It will be an upgrade from this season’s schedule to the point where if we post the same results next year that we did this year we will get an NCAA regional berth.”

“We finished with a 130-40-2 record for the year and beat Louisville’s team score in two of the three rounds at the conference tournament. We also beat a Top-40 Memphis team as well as Florida and Ole Miss – teams we have never beaten before. Those things tell me we are on the cusp, but we need to keep getting better.

How did you challenge your team to improve heading into next season?

“The one thing that we missed this year was the elite player - the player that you could count on to shoot 2, 3 or 4-under par every time he played. When you start to look at the teams that are in the top 50 in the country everybody has one of those players.

“I told the team after the season that somebody next year needs to come back and be that player. All five of our players have a chance to do that, but someone needs to do it. Of our top five guys that played the most, four shot a low round of 67.  There are guys that have the ability to do it but they need to do it with consistency.

“I’m not asking them to shoot a 67 every round because nobody does that. But when your low round is 67 and your high round is 72 or 73 that’s what you call your superstar. For us to get into the Top 50 next year somebody needs to come back and be a superstar for us because our schedule will allow for that to occur.”