By REBECA MURPHY
In October 2014, UMW Athletics announced the addition of a men’s varsity golf team beginning in the fall of 2016. Former UMW men’s basketball coach and current Director of Athletic Facilities, Rod Wood, will serve as the new program’s head coach.
The team will join the other nine UMW men’s varsity teams and will immediately be eligible to compete in NCAA individual and team postseason tournaments. The team’s home course will be Augustine Golf Club located in Stafford County. According to Wood, the school chose this location because of the club’s strong interest in hosting a collegiate team.
According to UMW’s varsity athletics website, Augustine Golf Club is also a current sponsor of UMW Athletics.
“Golf has a split season,” explained Wood. The team will practice during the fall, competing in a few tournaments. Upon spring, the team will primarily focus on competing, hopefully making an appearance in an NCAA postseason tournament.
To date, the program has recruited a total of 10 talented athletes. All 10 athletes are incoming freshman who have applied to UMW, been admitted to the school and have paid their deposits. Seven of those athletes are from Virginia and three are from out of state. Wood anticipates most of the team will consist of freshmen, however, current students have expressed interest in joining the team as well.
Wood voiced how excited he is for this unique opportunity to coach the first men’s varsity golf team at UMW. He explained how building a team from scratch will be different compared to a club sport that developed into a varsity team.
The team, as well as Wood, will all be learning all new parameters throughout the first season or two, adjusting to the competition, level of skills, and coaching style. Christopher Newport University has been a top competitor in the CAC, winning the championship every year for the past three years. Wood said he is eager to see how the first season goes and where the team will rank against the competition.
“Golf was my passion before basketball,” Wood said. Aside playing for pleasure, Wood also has coaching experience. Previously, Wood coached the golf team at Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield, Virginia. While at Robert E. Lee, Wood coached and mentored current PGA Tour Professional, Kris Blanks.
When asked about the different aspects of coaching basketball and golf, Wood replied, “It’s a different environment. Basketball games have crowds cheering.”
As time closes in on the start of the team’s first season, the team’s roster and schedule will be finalized. The team will plan their first tee time this upcoming fall semester with enthusiasm and eagerness to get on the course.