AUBURN, AL -
In this week's edition of Tee Time, I sat down with Auburn men's golf head coach Nick Clinard to find out more about how the Tigers have become so successful as a program.
Q: (Annino) Fifth year at Auburn for you. You've had a lot of success. Is the program where you thought it would be?
A: (Clinard) My expectations are always really, really high. It's progressing a little faster than I thought. We came out and had a lot of success even in our first year. Our second year, we really kind of took off, won a lot of golf tournaments, had a lot of individual medalists. We've been consistently ranked in the top 25 in the country. But hats off to the players. They're the ones that hit the shots and make the putts.
Q: Can you sum up your own coaching philosophy? I'm fascinated by golf coaches because it seems like no one's is ever the same.
A: There are a lot of different ideas out there. I'm a big work ethic guy. I'm a technique guy. We're constantly working on technique. We're really just trying to make sure they understand the game, understand their games, and what goes wrong when they're out there playing so they can be self-reliant.
Q: The strength of the SEC is always amazing. It seems like there's always somebody threatening to win a national title. How do you size up the overall strength of the league this year?
A: It's tough. Last year, we went into the SEC Tournament in April and 13 of the 14 teams were in the top 50 in the country. Nine of the 14 were top 23 in the nation. Once again, we're right back in that situation. It's a great league. Most players want to play in this league. It's very, very competitive. There should be a great showing at the NCAA Championship in May.
Q: Two of the words you used after the tournament in Mobile were "focus and patience." Is that how you would best define this year's team?
A: I think so. We're making sure that we stay focused. We're very focused because I don't feel like they've earned some of the respect that maybe some of the teams in the past have the past few years. Everybody expected them to be great. I think it's just being patient when we're out there playing, trying to score well, and put the ball in the hole.
Q: What's it going to take for Auburn University to win a national title this year with this team?
A: I think we've got to be a little tougher mentally and we've got to make a lot of putts.
Q: Simple as that?
A: Simple as that.
Auburn's next tournament starts on Sunday: The Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate Tournament in South Carolina. The Tigers won this event in 2012.