High school golfers might think carding low scores automatically results in earning a college scholarship, but so much more enters the equation, according to a man who makes the decisions.
“It’s all about the little things,” new Kansas University men’s golf coach Jamie Bermel said by phone from his home in Fort Collins, Colo. “We’re still a team. How good of a team member can you be? Can you do everything from school to golf to your social life and keep them in balance? How are you going to react when mom and dad aren’t there every day? There are so many factors you have to look at.”
Spoiled brats need not apply for the Kansas golf team.
“They don’t work out,” he said. “They just never do.”
In 20 years as a Division I head coach (five at Drake, two at Iowa State and 13 at Colorado State), Bermel has developed a keen ear for warning signs. He listed a few things he called “major turnoffs.”
“When they’re playing golf, if they tell their parents to go get them a drink,” Bermel said. “You’re telling your parents what to do? How about asking them? If they’re telling their parents what to do, are they going to tell me what to do?”
Something tells me that wouldn’t work out too well.
“Being disrespectful out on the golf course, the language,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of pressure, but there’s no reason to be disrespectful. I’ve walked away from kids then see them four years later and they’re an All-American.”
No hint of regret in his voice. He’s not interested in having jerks represent the university that pays him. That shrinks the recruiting pool, but it’s not as if he’s loaded his teams with a bunch of stiffs hindered by outside-in swings and take-it-back-slowly-and-lunge approaches. He hasn’t been coaching guys who routinely pull putts, take two to get out of the sand, space out and hit the wrong ball (in some cases when it’s not even the same color), have more moving parts than a break-dancing octopus, swing so hard with a sand wedge they fall into the pond, whiff chips, show such poor balance they draw semicircles on the tee box with their back foot, hit the same tree twice on one hole and repeatedly make sure the golf ball stays hydrated on hot days.
OK, enough about my weekend. Back to Bermel’s career. Two of this year’s top 20 PGA Tour money winners — No. 3 Zach Johnson at Drake and No. 20 Martin Laird, a Scotsman who played at Colorado State — played for Bermel. Johnson’s only other offer came from St. Ambrose Univeristy, an NAIA school in Davenport, Iowa. Laird chose Colorado State in favor of offers from Rice, USC and Vanderbilt. Offering Johnson, who won the John Deere Classic in a sloppy playoff Sunday, suggests Bermel can evaluate. Landing Laird, whose name he learned from a recruiting service, proves he can sell. Good hire.