Cartersville's Jim Garren helps lead OU at NCAA Men's Golf Championships
When the 2016 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship tees off for the second round Saturday in Eugene, Oregon, Cartersville native and 18th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners’ assistant coach, Jim Garren, will be on the course supporting his players.
Garren (photo, right, with one of his players) is in Oregon this week helping lead the Sooners to what he hopes will be a National Championship, and at minimum, an improvement on the team’s 28th place finish in last year’s national tournament.
Oklahoma shot a team total 290 (10-over) on Friday to stand tied for 15th after one round in the championship. Arkansas and TCU were tied for the lead after one day at 2-over, 282.
“We played solid in the opening round and it is a golf course that is not going to separate scores very much,” noted Garren after his team’s opening round. “The only disappointment was how we played as a team on holes five and six. We dropped some shots there and those holes are two of the easier holes on the course after starting on hole number ten.”
“Overall, it was a pretty good day. We’re fairly pleased,” he added.
Garren, a former golfer for the Cartersville Hurricanes is in his second season as an assistant at OU. He was a member of three Georgia High School Association Class AA state championship teams. (2000-2002). He continued his playing career as a member of the Wallace State junior college team in 2003 before transferring to Kennesaw State University, where he earned his degree in Sports Management in 2008.
Garren began his coaching career in 2008 as an assistant coach and director of recruiting at Southern Mississippi. The Golden Eagles established five team records during his tenure and produced four Academic All-America Scholars and a pair of All-Conference USA selections.
In 2013, Garren moved further west to serve as the men’s golf assistant at New Mexico, where the Lobos won four tournaments including a Mountain West championship.
He also helped develop a pair of PING All-West Region and All-Mountain West selections in Gavin Green and Victor Perez. Green was tabbed a second-team All-American and MWC Player of the Year. New Mexico also had three Academic All-America Scholars during Garren’s season with the Lobos.
Garren arrived at Oklahoma University in August of 2014 after being hired by current head coach Ryan Hybl, another Georgia native.
Hybl is from Colbert, GA and has served as the Sooners’ head coach since 2009. He was previously an assistant coach at the University of Georgia and played four seasons for the Bulldogs (2001-04). Hybl was a two-time, All-America and All-SEC selection at UGA and was team captain as a junior and a senior. In the 2015 season, Hybl and Garren led OU to a 20-stroke victory at the NCAA San Diego Regional and a fifth-straight NCAA Championships appearance. OU also had two players, Michael Gellerman (third team) and Grant Hirschman (honorable mention), to receive All-America recognition in 2015. By qualifying for the 2016 national tournament, Oklahoma is in some elite company.
Only Georgia, Illinois, Texas, and USC have joined the Sooners in the past six straight NCAA Championships.
Garren pointed to this year’s team as not only good, but with great potential.
“The unique thing about this team is our youth,” noted Garren. “We’re excited about what we’ve accomplished, but also excited about this team’s potential. Even our senior has only been in our top five for the last two seasons. Our fall was strong, but we started slowly in the spring and we’ve really improved each week.”
This past fall, Oklahoma won The Gopher Invitational in Plymouth, MN and the Ka’anapali Collegiate Classic in Maui, Hawaii. The team also collected a runner-up finish at the UTSA/Oak Hills Invitational in San Antonio, TX in February and placed third in Las Vegas at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in March. The Sooners finished fourth in the Big 12 Championship in Trinity, TX April 29-May 1 and earned their trip to the NCAA Championship with a runner-up finish at the NCAA Stillwater Regional May 16-18.
At Stillwater, Oklahoma shot 292-296-302—890 (+26) to finish behind Big 12 Conference rival, Oklahoma State (+7) at the par-72, 7418-yard Karsten Creek Golf Club. Clemson (+37), Louisville (+43), and Purdue (+46) rounded out the five qualifying teams for the NCAA Championship from the Stillwater Regional.
Individually, three Sooners finished in the top 20 at Stillwater. Junior Max McGreevy shot 3-over to claim fourth. Sophomore Grant Hirschman tied for eighth with a 6-over total, and Freshman Brad Dalke tied for 15th by carding a 9-over finish. Freshman Blaine Hale (T27, +13) and Senior Luke Kwon (T44, +20) rounded out the OU individual scores.
Garren and Hybl will be out on the course with the Sooners throughout the championship providing all the help they are allowed. “Honestly, about 90 percent of what we do with these guys is psychological and motivational,” Garren observed. “These guys all have swing coaches and we don’t do much with their swings. As college coaches, we focus on course management, short game techniques, confidence, and suggestions on how a player might improve his scoring. I keep a lot of notes and will share trends that can possibly help with club selection later in a round,” said the Sooners’ assistant.
Garren’s daily responsibilities with the OU program are varied, and include a lot of the recruiting duties as the Sooners try to collect the top young players in the nation. “We recruit year round and I’m on the road with recruiting at least a couple of times each month,” he pointed out. “Most of my mornings are filled with phone calls, clerical and administrative tasks for compliance, NCAA paper work, budgets, items for the athletic department, and work with our boosters. We can hold formal practices with our guys 20 hours each week, so we usually do three hours or so several days each week,” added the coach.
Garren also likes to point to his Cartersville roots as a huge influence on where he stands today with one of the top collegiate programs in the country. “In my youth, I was influenced by the way Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods played the game,” said Garren. “But as a teenager, I was lucky to get to play a lot of golf at Cartersville Country Club with Jason Bohn and Scott Hamilton who are now some of the PGA Tour’s elite. In those days, Bohn was playing on the Canadian and Hooters Tours and I got to see how he worked on his game. Of course he is now among the top players on the PGA Tour and Scott (Hamilton) was influential as both a player and how he teaches the game. Scott has remained available to me, answering questions all eight years I’ve been doing this,” reflected Garren.
The NCAA Championship Tournament continues with stroke play Saturday and Sunday before a team cut and Garren knows what his team has to do to advance.
“We need all five guys in the game each round,” he stated. “We hit the ball nicely and we are straighter than a lot of teams out here. We just have to make sure every one of our guys are contributing and stay in the game each day. If we do that, I think we’ll be fine,” Garren concluded. The University of Oregon is the host for the 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships. The tournaments are being played at Eugene Country Club.
The women’s championship ran May 20-25 with Washington edging defending national champion, Stanford, 3-2 in the match play finals. The victory, Washington’s first-ever, was literally decided on a final putt on the 18th hole of the championship match’s fifth pairing. The men’s championship is being conducted May 27-June 1 on the same course used for the women’s tournament. While the women played the course at just over 6,300 yards, Eugene Country Club is playing as a par-70 at 7,014 yards for the men’s tournament.
Entering the championship, the top eight seeded teams include: Stanford (Pac12), Texas (Big12), Southern California (Pac12), Illinois (B1G), Oklahoma State (Big12), Georgia (SEC), Arizona State (Pac12), and Vanderbilt (SEC).
Oklahoma was seeded 18th of 30 teams in the field and is paired in the first two rounds with Alabama and Florida of the Southeastern Conference
Other teams that qualified for the championship in Eugene include:
Auburn, LSU, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Kentucky make nine teams in the field from the Southeastern Conference.
Clemson, Florida State, Wake Forest, Virginia, and Louisville represent the Atlantic Coast Conference.
California and Oregon are in the field from the Pac-12 for a total of five teams from that conference.
Baylor and Texas Christian qualified to make five teams from the Big 12.
Houston and Alabama-Birmingham represent Conference USA.
South Florida (AAC), San Diego State (MWC), and Purdue (B1G) round out the team championship field.
Ryan Cole of James Madison is the top seeded individual player in the field.
All 30 teams and six individuals will complete 54 holes of stroke play. Following 54 holes of competition, the top 15 teams along with the top nine individuals not on an advancing team will advance for one additional day of stroke play to determine the top eight teams for match-play competition and the 72-hole stroke-play individual champion. The top eight teams after 72 holes of play will be placed into a bracket with the No. 1 seed playing the No. 8 seed, the No. 2 seed playing the No. 7 seed, the No. 3 seed playing the No. 6 seed and the No. 4 seed playing the No. 5 seed in match play.
The first three rounds, played May 27-29, start each day at 10am EDT. Online scoring coverage for the first three rounds is available through Golfstat. Use this link: http://www.golfstatresults.com/public/leaderboards/gsnav.cfm?pg=team&tid=8167
The final round of stroke play and the individual national championship final round will have television coverage on Golf Channel on Monday, May 30, 7-10pm. All of the team match play for the final eight teams will also be televised by Golf Channel.