Looking Back on a Memorable Season for Men's Golf|
May 19, 2014
The University of Cincinnati men's golf team took significant strides in building a highly competitive program during the 2013-14 campaign, posting nine top-5 finishes and achieving multiple individual and team records.
The Bearcats ended the season as the nation's most improved team, climbing 123 spots from the 2012-13 year-end GolfStat rankings to finish inside the Top 100 for the first time in school history.
The genesis for most of the success came before the season even started when returning players like junior Jared Howard and sophomore Emerson Newsome - who displayed an outstanding work ethic and desire to improve - were joined by junior college transfers Baxter Reeves and John Michael O'Toole and freshman Jared O'Kelley - who brought a determined and confident approach.
According to head coach Doug Martin the combination resulted in a group of players focused on improving Cincinnati's stature on the collegiate golf scene.
"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," Martin said.
And the results followed.
"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," Martin said. "When you have five players and your lowest stroke average 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."
Cincinnati contended for the team title in all five of its fall tournaments, winning first place at the Cleveland State Invitational on Oct. 1 with a school-record 29-under par 835. Jared Howard took second place at 9-under 207. It marked the school's first team title since 2008.
"Anytime you win a tournament it's important to your season," Martin said. "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 had five players contributing. It really showed the guys what they are capable of doing."
Another milestone in the season came toward the end of the spring when the Bearcats nearly won the highly competitive Old Waverly Collegiate Championship in West Point, Mississippi, on April 8. In posting their best score of the spring at 4-under 860, the Bearcats fell one stroke behind tournament host Mississippi State for the team crown.
"Finishing second to Mississippi State by one shot showed us what we can do against a really good field," Martin said. "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."
Along the way, the Bearcats rewrote the record books by improving: the program's best scoring average (291.06) by nine strokes; the most birdies (505) in a season by 174 and its top national ranking (93) by 45 positions.
Individually, Jared Howard set the school mark for: the best stroke average (72.86), the most par or better rounds (17) and the most birdies (113). Five Bearcats on the 2013-14 squad ranked among the program's 10 best players in single-season scoring average. Along with Jared Howard (113), Reeves (109), Newsome (98) and O'Toole (93) finished as the program's top four players for most birdies in a season.
"These accomplishments show us our capabilities and our potential," Martin said. "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."
Read more about key contributors on this season's team, as well as the impact of fully funded scholarships and plans to improve next year's strength of schedule in this Q& A with Coach Martin.