When I spoke to athletic director Mike Jacobsen a few months ago, he called men’s basketball “the sport we hang our hat on.”
In terms of fan interest and financial returns, Jacobsen has a point. Still, there’s one question that needs to be asked.
How about that men’s golf team?
Before you blink and disregard this as a suicidal jump off the mainstream bridge, consider following:
- Men’s golf team finishes this season: first, second and second.
- The victims: Washington State, Boise State, Idaho and Weber State.
- The accolades: Mason Casper wins individual title at Battle in the Tetons, named American Men’s Golf Conference Player of the Week and was among the top-10 in the nation in scoring average.
It’s a shame so much success is going unnoticed, largely because all the invitationals have, to this point, taken place out of state. The Wolverines wrap up their only in-state showcase today at the Wildcat Invitation in Layton before heading to Hawaii at the end of the month.
Am I jealous? Yes, and not just because of the location. UVU golf represents, perhaps better than any other sport, where Wolverine athletics stand and what they’re trying to do. Without a big-time conference’s backing, wins of the most frequent and bigtime nature are needed to help the program take the next big step. The step itself, however, will happen without much fanfare.
That’s exactly what’s happening on the fairway, even as most of us wait and hope for it to happen on the hardwood or the diamond. This is no knock on volleyball, baseball or basketball, sports that over the past two years have more than held their own. Golf’s string of top-two finishes, however, has been the most consistent and impressive stat of success to date, and there should be no shame in admitting that. UCLA, widely recognized for its image in football and basketball, only truly dominates golf, where they currently rank first in the nation.
UVU isn’t ranked yet, nor did they receive votes from the coaches poll. It will probably take another handful of finishes to get that kind of notice. With that brand of success already achieved, however, national attention goes from improbable to possible. That in itself is a huge step.
One none of us expected golf to be responsible for.