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Buffs Ready To Enter Spring Season Swinging

Dec 15, 2011

Jon Levy is in his first year as the assistant coach of the CU men's golf team. He has an impressive resume which includes experience in golf, coaching, marketing and communications.  He has been a head coach at two junior colleges in Arizona, coaching one to a NJCAA national championship. Prior to coming to CU, he worked for a year was the associate editor at the Golf Channel for the organization's website, where he had duties as both an editor and a writer.  He also was the director of communications for the Gateway Tour, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., for three years (2007-10), where he handled all media relations, writing, communication and public relations functions.  In his last year with the Gateway Tour, he also served as the head coach at Paradise Valley Community College.

BOULDER - Golf is a game of confidence. So much so that one of the sport's leading psychologists wrote a book about the topic and titled it just such.

Of course, this simple, yet stingingly difficult-to-encompass-in-reality ideology bears its head throughout the temperate climate of college golf.

In other words, if you're an NCAA Division I golf team and you think your squad has the golf balls to stack up with the best in the country, here's some news:

The line forms to the left.

Truth is - at least before any given season starts - most golf programs feel their 'top five' can swing 'em with the best around. 

The reality is it's a tough game. And it doesn't take long before the elite separate themselves from the not-so-well-equipped to be standing in that tempered line of 'confidence.'

Here at the University of Colorado, to put it simply, it's an exciting time for men's golf. It's no secret a challenge was issued to step it up as first-year members of the Pac-12, which is arguably the top conference in college golf.

So, needless to say, when the Buffs came out firing with a 24-under-par scorcher at CU's own Mark Simpson Colorado Invitational in September to start the season with a five-shot win, a few eyebrows were raised. Then, following CU's 20-under bomb the very next week to win the Gene Miranda Air Force Invitational - the first time the Buffs had ever opened the season with back-to-back wins - well, more than a few people noticed.

Consequently, the Buffs were ranked within the top 25 in all three national polls following the first fall rankings, crowned by a 10th-place standing from Golfstat. It was apparent men's golf had accepted its challenge head on.

When the team struggled in its final two events, though - the Tucker Invitational hosted by the University of New Mexico and the Alister Mackenzie Invitational hosted by Cal - that simple, little idea of confidence was quickly and undeniably tested. In such a fragile game where the "I'm-on-top-of-the world" feeling can turn into a "where-in-the-world-did-my-golf-game-go" panic at any given notice, our self-belief topic of the day couldn't have bared its head any truer.

But like going through any of life's normal ups and downs - er, birdies and bogeys as it is - that slight shake in the team's confidence has turned into some cold, hard determination. Because, as a little snow and frigid temps make the clubs yearn for green grass and warmer weather, the Buffs' drive, motivation and need to return to form in the spring is stronger than ever.

It helps that Coach Edwards penned two strong recruits for the fall of 2012 during the early signing period in November. And there's no doubt the communal experience of serving breakfast to residents of the North Boulder Homeless Shelter on a pair of Mondays last month accrued a heck of lot of perspective on what being a Buff is all about.

And then, of course, there are the workouts. The team's strength guru, Coach Josh Schuler, had thrown a turbo-booster into the 6 a.m. workouts as soon as the squad hit the off-season.  The result has been - what else - improved strength.

But not just physical strength.

There's just something about grinding it out for an hour straight and then jump-roping for your life (or an avoidance of 'Up-Downs'), or carrying your teammate on your shoulders while sprinting up Folsom Field's stairs in 30-degree temps. It changes you. It elicits improved mental strength and stamina on top of those thundering, powerful quads that'll aid towering 310-yard bombs off of the tee.

All told, as the winter break arrives, it's easy to declare men's golf will be ready for its first spring event, the Hawai'i-Hilo Intercollegiate, in February. That the team will be primed to scratch and claw its way back into form during the eight spring events preceding the NCAA Regional and National Championships. And that the squad will stand - shoulder to shoulder - like true, confident Buffs to propel each other toward success; in the classroom, and on the golf course.