New golf coach can teach swing

Brad McMakin is Arkansas' new golf coach. Sometime, somewhere, McMakin can tell folks that his first two (and maybe last two) bosses in coaching were Billy Tubbs and Frank Broyles. That's covering both ends of the spectrum as far as athletic directors in my book. Billy is brash, quick with a one-liner and can be a little on the racy side as far as telling a joke.

I've yet to hear Broyles tell a joke. And, he's polished and careful with his words. He is NOT Billy Tubbs.

But McMakin will have to be careful if and when he plays against his new boss. With a new hip, Broyles is sure to be in top golfing form soon, if he's not there already. He'll probably demand a few strokes from any of his golf coaches and can win with that kind of help.

"I had to quit taking calls from Billy Tubbs," said McMakin about his recent days at Lamar under Tubbs. "I had to give him six aside in our last match and he shot 72."

So he lost money to Tubbs that day?

"Absolutely, a lot," McMakin said. "He said he needed shots and he still wanted to play. My phone would ring and it would be Billy. I knew he wanted to play. I couldn't afford to play with him anymore."

Just a side note, Brad, if it helps to let the AD win, go ahead and do it. He is your boss.

It's no secret that Broyles will be around the new golf coach a bunch. That's because the golf coach headquarters at the posh teaching facility at the Blessing Golf Club in Johnson.

"I've been here since Monday and Coach Broyles has been out to hit balls every single day," McMakin said. "He was there when I left today."

It's a good bet that Broyles likes what he sees and hears from the newest member of his staff. McMakin polished off the recruiting that former coach Mike Ketcham started by gaining a commitment from Italian phenom Federico Columbo. Ketcham was waiting on Columbo to get a passing ACT score to close the deal and that happened just a few days ago.

Columbo may be Europe's next great player and should star on a UA team that lost several key players in the last three weeks to transfer. Asked about Columbo, McMakin was careful not to make a comment per NCAA rules since he's still a recruitable athlete. Federico said he'll be here for the fall and could fill the Hogs' number one spot.

McMakin also will bring a rising star from his old team at Lamar, sophomore-to-be Andrew Landry. Lamar has released Landry. He won a tournament in Florida with a 9-under total over a course where the PGA Tour Qualifying School is contested.

With all of that in mind, it's clear that the Hogs will have some ability next season despite losing players like Matt Bortis and Eric Shriver. Both of those talented players did not chose to return following last season, a down year for the team.

"I know everyone believes that we are dead for next year because of the players we lost," McMakin said. "But Coach Ketcham did not leave things bare. There is some talent here and we are going to bring in some good ones in the fall to go with them.

"We have good chemistry right now and the guys who are coming back are off to great starts the first month of the summer. I expect to be regardless as to what others think about our chances. We will be good. I'm telling you that right now."

McMakin might think hard about throwing those kind of quotes out there too often. As a first-year coach, he's probably got some time before anyone holds him accountable. Told that during the interview for this story, he wouldn't back down.

"I am not putting expectations too high," he said after making sure he was clear on his expectations.

"We should be able to make the NCAA regionals. I think we can be a top 30 program this year. I know we aren't going to do everything over night, but we will be good this year.

"I know what we can do here. We did well at Lamar with zero talent. The talent here is going to be better. I have confidence that we can do better than that here."

Not only does McMakin have talent, but he has facilities for the first time.

"We did have a practice facility," he said. "We didn't have a golf course. Here, we've got the number one facility in the nation. Number one. Great practice facility. The best. Great golf course. The best."

McMakin knows what it's like to win at the highest level. He was on the Oklahoma team which won the NCAA title at Oak Tree in Edmond, Okla., over favored Oklahoma State. I covered that tournament as the golf writer at the Tulsa World. I also covered the Oklahoma Amateur when McMakin won it in 1987.

I liked McMakin as a player then and I like him even more as the new UA golf coach. His methods differ slightly from many of his peers. Most college golf coaches are recruiters first, and bus drivers next. Few try to dabble too much in swing changes, mostly getting fixes done by the golf instructors back home who taught them the game as junior players.

"I will be a teacher," he said. "I know some college coaches don't (teach) much, but I've had to do it that way because we couldn't get the great junior players at Lamar. I had to take guys that were sometimes at the bottom of their high school team and then make them into players.

"We had a guy at Lamar this year who was fourth on his high school team and he was a two-time All-America for us. I took Chris Stroud out of high school and nobody wanted him. He finished third at the NCAAs at Karsten

Creek (at Oklahoma State). He won seven college tournaments and averaged 70 strokes his last couple of years.

"I believe I can teach and make players better. I do believe that. I didn't have the talent others had and we overachieved and won.

"Our goal will be to improve each and every week. If we do that from the start of the season to the end, we'll be better than a lot of teams. I believe we will have the facilities to recruit nationwide. On a scale ofone to 10, our facilities rate as a 15."

Teaching is a priority, so much that his assistant coach hire will be ateaching professional. McMakin is on the verge of completing just such ahire, a teacher with some rising stars on the PGA Tour at both the toplevel and the Nationwide circuit.

"We are close to getting that done," McMakin said. "It goes along with my belief that you can work with players at this level and teach them the swing.

"I know we can get them focused on the short game. That will be what we begin with in the fall. I believe we will overachieve with the players we get here, just like at Lamar."

And, just like at Lamar, he may have a day where he loses money to the athletic director.



CLAY HENRY IS THE PUBLISHER OF HAWGS ILLUSTRATED, A STEPHENS MEDIA GROUP PUBLICATION. HIS COLUMN APPEARS EACH FRIDAY. E-MAIL: CLAY@NWAONLINE.NET

Hawgs Daily Top Stories