The 2002-03 season marks a milestone season for Jim Brown. He will embark on his 30th year as head men’s golf coach at Ohio State. The Buckeyes have set their sights on another successful season under Brown. With yet another quality recruiting class, the team looks to combine youth with experience in the hopes of winning the Big Ten title and qualifying for the national tournament.
Returning for the Buckeyes this season is Justin Collins who was one of the team’s top players from last season. Collins tied graduating senior Doug Wade in 2001-02 for rounds played with 36. Collins scoring average of 73.6 was the second best average behind Wade. With Collins returning this season, Brown has high hopes for the senior to make an impact.
“Justin Collins who was the captain elect last fall was one of the top 15 players in the country,” Brown said. “Although he struggled in the spring he still has tremendous potential.”
Along with Collins, juniors Kevin Hall and Zach Doran return. Although both golfers lack experience, Brown is confident in the abilities of both. He has been impressed with their work ethic throughout the summer.
“Kevin Hall and Zach Doran both had very impressive summers,” Brown said. “I know they are really looking forward to this fall. They both played in a lot of tournaments this summer, shooting some excellent scores in the high 60’s. Both of them are very hard workers, very good students and good all-around kids.
“Kevin has changed his swing a little bit this summer. We are hoping that he can get back what he did in his freshman year,” Brown said. “I think that if you talked to him he would say he played better his freshmen year then his sophomore year, which could be attributed to his high expectations that he set for himself after his freshman year.” Hall, found his way into the Top 5 on the team five times last season, including the Aztec Invitational helping Brown record his 153rd career victory at Ohio State.
Doran, who joined the team late last season, came on strong for the Buckeyes qualifying for the Big Ten championships and the NCAA West Regional. This season Doran figures to contend for one of the top spots on team.
Scott Anderson returns to the squad this year for his sophomore season of play. He completed a successful string of competitions over the summer.
Anderson won three tournaments in his home state of Montana while competing in the Montana Golf Association. Despite shooting consistently low scores throughout the summer, Anderson just missed qualifying for the U.S. Amateur Championships.
“I think he has that look in his eye that it is his time to step up,” Brown said. “He has tremendous potential and probably has the longest distance off the tee. He has worked a lot on controlling the distance with his wedges which was something he and I both knew he had to work on during the offseason.”
The 2002-03 season figures to be yet another challenging year for the Buckeyes, competing in the top collegiate tournaments in the country. The team opens the season at the Sooner Invitational in Frisco, Texas. The Sooner Invitational will feature some of the finest teams in the Midwest who qualified for the NCAA championships last year.
Following the Sooner Invitational the squad travels to Bloomington, Ind., to compete in the Northern Invitational. The event will be held at the Indiana University Golf Course, which also will be the site of the 2003 Big Ten championships.
“The Northern Invitational will give us a look at the course and that will give us a better read on the Big Ten Championship,” Brown said.
The real test for Buckeyes will come at the Southwestern Invitational, featuring some of the best teams throughout the country. The tournament will take place March 3-4 in Los Angles, Calif.
“I play a competitive schedule,” Brown said. “There is no easy tournament on our entire schedule. In order for us to play against the best in the spring at the NCAA championships we must prove to ourselves we can with play with them during the regular season.”
The difficult schedule the Buckeyes play will certainly prepare the team for the Big Ten championships in May. The Big Ten proved to be one of the toughest conferences in the country last season. Three teams from the Big Ten qualified for the NCAA championships, including Minnesota the eventual 2002 National Champion.
“The Big Ten is starting to become a very good conference,” Brown said. “A couple of years ago we carried the flagship for the conference. Now everyone has caught up to us and a lot of foreign players are beginning to step up. Teams also have begun to improve their golfing facilities.”
With this season marking the 30th year at Ohio State for Brown, he still has high expectations for his team and hopes to return the NCAA championships. Although things have changed throughout the years, Brown’s philosophy toward success has remained the same.
“The pool of recruiting is much larger not only in the United States but in the world,” Brown said. “Scores are much lower, the equipment has changed and the kids are getting more experience. When a freshman comes to college now he has much more experience because he has played in so many tournaments.
“It is going to be an interesting year,” Brown said. “We lost a lot of guys from last year but I am confident that some of the guys have the potential to be that good or better. Only time will tell how the season goes. I know that everyone on the team is excited about the start of the season. They know that there are going to be some spots open. The freshmen that are coming in are really working hard and they feel as if they have a chance to compete.”