By Joe Klingbeil
Special to Tidesports.com
One of the most rewarding qualities of team sports is shared team success. The dedication, hard work and the commitment that unfolds after hours of practice that translates into a win is unparalleled.
And for the Alabama men’s and women’s golf teams, each success is not just celebrated as individual programs. It is celebrated as Alabama golf.
“Having (the men) do well is really important to us,” women’s coach Mic Potter said. “We look at this as a golf program and not just a women’s program and a men’s program, so we are pulling for each other but we want to outperform each other. There is competition, and that’s good. Any time you have competition that’s good.”
After fast starts to their respective seasons, Golfstat.com’s latest poll ranked both the Alabama men’s and women’s teams No. 1 in the country. The men’s team has two wins this season, and the women have one. Both teams have competed in three tournaments. Neither has finished lower than second place.
“It’s Alabama golf,” men’s coach Jay Seawell said. “It’s almost one big team to a certain extent, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mic, he’s an incredible coach, and Susan (Rosenstiel) also, I think our guys get to see the girls work hard and do things.
“It’s just eye-opening to see how good they are and see how hard they work. I think that motivates us, and then in turn I think that also there are things about the men’s program that helps motivate (the women’s team).”
Golfstat also ranked Alabama’s Lauren Stephenson the No. 1 collegiate women’s player, and Davis Riley the No. 2 men’s player in the country. Each has an under par overall stroke average this season.
At one point in spring 2017, the men’s team was ranked 63rd and was 36 games under the .500 mark. However the team came back in the summer with a new mindset and approach. It was sparked by the success of the women.
“They did really well last year,” Riley said. “I think they were number one at some point last year, too, and they would come out here saying, ‘Oh we’re number one’ and all that so that kind of made us a little hungry and want do better. But yeah it’s definitely cool, both really good teams, great coaches, so we’re all just having a good time putting all our hard work in.”
Neither team is ready to take its foot off the gas pedal as it makes the turn into 2018. Even though the golfers will be away from tournament competition until February following this weekend’s final tournament, they will not be far away from individual competition.
“I think they’re just all really fun to be around,” Stephenson said. “We’ll have chipping contests and putting contests, and it’s just fun to be around something different that what we’re used to.
“It’s just good to be in an environment where men’s and women’s teams are working really hard.”