Dismuke happy to be on board with Rebel golf

Jonathan Dismuke is back home. Back home in Mississippi and at Ole Miss.

The assistant golf coach for both the men's and women's teams, the Calhoun City native grew up an Ole Miss fan but played college golf at Auburn. He was a four-year letterwinner and an All-SEC performer for the Tigers. He had a solid career and left Auburn after graduating in 2004.

After a couple of years of pro golf, he turned to coaching. So far so good as the Rebels made it to the NCAA Tournament in his first season.

The Rebel golfers credited him with helping them reach that level this season. Ole Miss head men's golf coach Ernest Ross said Dismuke is an important part of the Rebel program.

"His experiences as a player and a student are a great asset to our program," said Ross, who heads into his 12th season over two different stints as head coach of Ole Miss men's golf in 2007-08. "He works well with our players and has great rapport with them. Jonathan helps motivate our players to become better in all aspects of their lives. We are a better team because of Jonathan."

Dismuke said being at Ole Miss is quite a dream come true for him, having spent many days in Oxford attending Ole Miss games and events.

"I grew up an Ole Miss fan 45 minutes from Oxford," said Dismuke, a former Mississippi Junior Champion and Mississippi Junior Player of the Year. "This was such a good fit and it came at the right time. I wanted to take advantage of it. I always had a lot of respect for Coach Ross. This was the right thing for me at the right time."

He had been tossing around the idea of coaching for a while.

"I got really interested in it while I was at Auburn," he said. "It's something I bounced around a while when I was playing professional golf. This opportunity became available (prior to last school year), and I decided to take it."

Although it won't last forever because of the passing of the years, but right now Dismuke isn't that far removed from playing collegiate golf himself. Therefore he has that special bond with the players.

"I was in their shoes not too long ago," he said. "I went through the developmental process like these players. I like to think I can bring them a perspective of being there lately. Guys have to develop mentally, physically with their golf swing and also physically as far as their fitness. You can't neglect any of those aspects if you want to succeed. I believe that's where Coach Ross and I are ahead of a lot of other golf coaches. Some just worry about their swings. We try to get involved in the mental side as well as the physical. I'm very big on that. I wish I'd had more of that when I was in school."

The Rebels of 2006-07 handled a lot of things mentally that they might not have in years' past.

"Look at the development the team made in a year," Dismuke said. "This was a team that finished last in the SEC last year and this year led the whole field after one round and ended up fourth and made it to the NCAAs. It had a lot to do with how we approached the year. We looked at some things we were doing as far as preparation and just not being physically ready to play. Fitness is an area we've addressed, and it's helped us. It's something I really believe in."

Dismuke is an example of hard work paying off. He grew up playing golf in "suburban" Calhoun City at Derma. Not a lot of college coaches come calling to that particular area. But Auburn gave him a shot, and he more than made the most of it.

"I loved the game and wanted to play in college," he said. "I just worked as hard as I could with not much in terms of facilities. It was a nine-hole golf course with no driving range. I played in junior tournaments which helped them find me, but only a couple of times outside the state of Mississippi. I wasn't recruited by Ole Miss or Mississippi State. Auburn took a chance and it worked out. I kind of just sold myself to them."

His story is one that can help him as he recruits younger players for the college game. He's been there, even in a situation that might not lend itself to being successful at the collegiate level. And he thrived.

"When I got to Auburn, we had 15 players, and I was the 14th best player," he said. "By the time I left, I was the No. 1 player and All-SEC. It just shows that if you work hard and love the game and love the challenges that it brings, then anybody can develop. I'm about as average as anybody you'll ever see. There were guys out there physically better than me. But by the time I was a senior, I was right there with them."

It's a work ethic and drive he brings to the Ole Miss golf program, a situation he's obviously excited about being in.

"I grew up going to every football game in Oxford – until I left to go to Auburn in the fall of 1999," he said. "I grew up red and blue, in the Grove every Saturday as an Ole Miss Rebel."

And now he's back, hoping to continue to help the red and blue have success on the greens - and tees and fairways - of college golf. If year one is any indication, things are working out according to plan in that regard.

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