How important to the golf program is the new facility?
"It is major to us. It has been a long time coming from when I first took this job thirteen years ago. Greg Byrne got the ball rolling with the improvements to the facility at the MSU Golf Course. Then Mr. Bryan came to Scott Stricklin in early 2014 and offered to let us come out (to West Point) and be a part of the Mossy Oak Driving Range and allow us to put our building here. That was when we knew we had the chance to do something really special. Because of where it is located the project got bigger much quicker. It went from being a 4,000 square foot facility to being an 8,000 square foot facility.
"It has a much different theme than it would have had at the MSU Golf Course. Because we are sitting on where an old dairy farm was from the 1930s, it is in the shape of a dairy barn. An old dairy barn was sitting on this very spot two years ago. It is pretty neat to have it set to a theme like that. Roger Pryor incorporated a lot of the same things that you would see in a dairy barn."
The inside of the building is really impressive.
"We wanted a place where our student-athletes could come and have everything they needed to feel like they were at home. On a Saturday we want them to be able to come here and stay all day if they want to. We wanted them to have a place where they could work on their short game, their putting, their driving. They can hit balls even if it is raining. They can measure their swings with trackman. They can measure their putting stroke with the Sam Putt Lab. On top of that they have the locker room where everybody has their own locker. There is also a kitchen and a team lounge area. There is a conference room. We have coaches offices where we can meet with a recruit and his family. There is everything that you could possibly need. I think we hit a hole in one with what we built."
How has it helped recruiting?
"It is amazing how fast the word spread about our new facility and what we have. With recruits the word has really gotten out. We have gotten recruits to come here that wouldn't have wanted to come here in the past because they have heard about the facility and wanted to see what it was like. We are seeing the tip of the iceberg of what this facility can do recruiting-wise.
"Coach (Ginger) Brown and I have done some junior camps here over the winter. That has helped spread the word to the younger kids throughout the southeast. We have hosted a tournament and had teams come here and practice. That is something that couldn't have done in the past."
You have signed a very good recruiting class. What do you like about them?
"One of the guys is Griffin Agent. He committed to us at the end of his 10th grade year. His dad and I went to school together. He is the number 2 player in the 2016 Mississippi class (and 53rd in the nation). He is also a good basketball player. He is a starter for MRA in basketball. He is 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5. He is just a great athlete. We feel like he is going to come in here and help us down the road. He has always balanced basketball and golf. Now he will be able to devote his time to golf and develop into a really good player in the future.
"Garrett Johnson is another guy that we signed. He is from Kimberly, Alabama, which is just north of Birmingham. Auburn got on him late and I think they offered him but he had already committed to us. He didn't play a lot of golf outside of the state of Alabama. We watched him play in Greenville (MS) last summer. I was impressed with what I saw. I watched him play a couple of weeks later in the Alabama State Amateur and he finished in the top 10. He didn't shoot over par the entire four days. That really impressed me. I really think he is the diamond in the rough of his class.
"Grant Motter is another signee. We signed him out of high school, then he went to Mississippi Gulf Coast due to academics. He needed a couple of years of maturity and I think the time he spent there did him a lot of good. I believer he is the best junior college player in the country. He can definitely play. His talent is undeniable. We feel like he can come in and be a top player right away.
"Tanapat (Peng) Pichaikool is another signee. He is very good. He may be the most talented of all of our signees. And he is only seventeen years old. I am super excited about what he can do here."
It sounds like your recruiting has really gone well. What has caused that?
"The interest in our golf course. The facility that we now have. (Assistant Coach) Noah (Goldman) has done a great job in recruiting. He is identifying the players, going after them and getting them on campus early. We are getting 9th and 10th graders on campus and showing them our facilities, our campus, the city of Starkville. Once we get the kids from out of state on campus they fall in love with this place. They realize that this is a cool spot. They realize that they have everything that they need to have a great college experience."
With the class that you have coming in and the players that are back you should see a big upswing next season?
"We didn't have the year that we wanted to this past season but we moved up in the national rankings 30 to 40 spots from where we were the year before. Recruiting is going great but it really starts with the team that you already have on campus. We have a good nucleus of young players. The guys who played the best for us, especially this spring, are all freshmen and sophomores. Ross Bell, a redshirt freshman, Jacob Ross, a transfer who is a sophomore, Taylor Grant, a transfer from Oklahoma State who is a sophomore, were playing their first year for us. Those three guys averaged a little over 74 for us but you could see their development. They will continue to get better because they are hard workers and they have the talent. And Taylor Bibbs and Johnny Newnham were sophomores. All of those guys will be sophomores and juniors for us next year. We will also have seniors like Jackson Dick and Ben Follett-Smith. That experience should really help us next year."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network.