Golf Sees Bright Future
Originally Published in the Vanderbilt Flagship
McPhaul spotted an opportunity to construct a winner
with the Vanderbilt men's golf team when he was hired last
I came out here and I saw the university, and the setting
and the attitude, I've picked up since August that there
seems to be a real renaissance going on, especially in the
athletic areas," said the former N.C. State golfer.
"People are invigorated by Chancellor Gee, and by what
they see as a real opportunity to succeed. With the great
academic reputation of the school and the great setting
like Nashville, it was an extremely easy decision."
and his Commodores have positioned themselves for a run
toward Vanderbilt's first NCAA tournament appearance. Through
fall play, McPhaul's crew is tied for seventh in the district,
and the top eight teams in each district qualify for the
NCAA regionals in May.
teed off slowly this season, finishing 9th out of 12 in
the Windon Memorial October 2-3. But after posting a 31
over par for that
tournament, the Commodores have slashed strokes from every
thereafter. McPhaul's squad was a mere six shots over par
in the autumn's
last tourney, the Prestige Desert Willow. Brandt Snedeker,
a prep standout
from Nashville's Montgomery Bell Academy, is the team's
ace. The sophomore
finished tied for third at Desert Willow with a 5-under
211 for three rounds
and leads the team in stroke average at 71.58.
draws upon Vandy's basketball team for a metaphor of his
trying to help them learn their game, so that they can say,
'This is my strength, so I'm going to develop a strategy
that's going to
take advantage of that,' rather than having Darius Coulibauly
three-pointers, which is what some of the guys might like
to do. That's what
our guys need to do, figure out which guys are the outside
ones are down in the paint. They need to know that and then
knew Commodore Athletic Director Todd Turner well from
Turner's days at N.C. State, so that played a significant
role in McPhaul's
decision to take the golf position at Vandy. This is McPhaul's
coaching experience, and while he values the foundation
laid by predecessors
Mason Rudolph and Jim Ragan, he's not content to simply
build the Commodores
for future success.
feel that we have a pretty special opportunity here,"
explained. "My predecessors have done an excellent
job of building a program
that before had no tradition and no success to build upon
"Like any other coach in any other sport, you don't
want to build,
you want to win. You want to win right away and not a couple
of years down
the road. There's some impatience there."
recruiting reveals McPhaul's desire to push the men's
team forward. Vanderbilt has already signed Mark Donnell
out of Mobile, AL.
All Donnell has done is win an AJGA tournament in Tampa,
top-ranked AJGA player in Orlando, and become the sole recipient
Academic and Athletic AJGA All-American honors.
a superb player and a hard worker," McPhaul said of
"The thing that attracted him to Vanderbilt was that
vision of success.
That's exciting, because if you know they're coming here
because of that,
they're going to work hard."
Lance Goodson is the other commitment McPhaul has
secured, and he too has a promising future.
is something he needs to improve on. When he does that,
he will be as good as he wants to be. He wanted to play
in the SEC, and to
compete at the highest level," said McPhaul.
opened its spring schedule with the Gator Invitational,
crucial meeting of mostly SEC teams hosted by the University
February 9-10. But to pinpoint one tourney as more or less
the rest is counterproductive, according to McPhaul.
is a cliche, but they're all extremely important this spring.
The Florida tournament's important because in some ways
that will kind of
set our tone for the spring. The Alabama and Auburn tournaments
like Florida State's in that they're well balanced with
district teams, and
if you're playing in this district, you're playing the best
teams in the
country. The North Carolina tournament will have a lot of
there, so that tournament will allow us to further our case,
that we belong
with those teams in the NCAA tourney."
or not Vanderbilt vaults into the postseason in 2001,
McPhaul realizes that the pieces are in place for long-term
success for the
pressure, the impetus I feel, is to continue that, because
are a lot of things in our favor here at Vanderbilt,"
McPhaul pointed out. "I feel a sense of great opportunity
here, and that's my strongest motivation. I have a clear
vision of how successful we can be here. We're
playing in absolutely the best golf conference in the country,
we're in a
great golf town, and there's no reason that Vanderbilt can't
have a great