No substitute for experience
“It was a combination of feeling really excited and feeling very honored,” said men’s golf head coach Wyn Norwood, about his recent time in China.
Not only did Norwood have the honor of coaching Team USA in the World University Games, but he was also able to choose his team and even to bring along one of UALR’s own, Nick Benton.
“I would have the right to select my golf team but I had to fit certain criteria, with either all American status or golfers had to be ranked in the top fifty worldwide” he said. “There were four players that would play on the team, and I could pick one player to play as an individual, so I asked them (The United States Golf Committee) if I could take one of my players and they said yes, so I asked Nick.”
“We are a very young team,” he said, “Nick is our only junior, I have three sophomores and six freshman this year and Nick has the most playing experience of anyone coming back so I thought, well, I am going to ask Nick to go because it would be a great experience for him and be a recognition for UALR, and at the same time I felt like his experience would be something to help our program in the future.”
Norwood said he thought the experience of the entire trip was something Nick needed as person and a player.
“I can see the confidence in Nick this fall already; he has already taken on a leadership role on the team, he is playing well, he is playing with confidence and that is something I always thought Nick needed, to take it to the next level.”
Norwood said he believes going to China didn’t necessarily change him as a person but gave him a better outlook as a coach.
“I’m too old for change,” he said, “but everything you gain from an experience like that is something you can help others with in my position. I saw some things from watching other players from other countries and talking with some other coaches that I think will help me as a coach.”
Norwood said he was very impressed with the Chinese culture and how well the event was put together.
“It was exactly like the Olympics at the college level and the way the Chinese people embraced the event and the way it was put on, it was unbelievable,” he said.
“Everywhere you went, people seemed very happy to see Americans, they definitely know how to put on a first-class show.”
Norwood said the trip has only made him more eager for the season that lies ahead.
“I am very optimistic for this season,” he said, “I think we are going to make a lot of mistakes just like we did in the first tournament early, but I saw some real positives come out of it. I think this is a young team that certainly has the ability, but more than that, they have a determination about them. I think as the year goes on, we will continue to improve, and that’s what I want.”
Coach Norwood’s Team USA finished seventh overall in China and it is a trip he said he will never forget. UALR men’s golf continues Sept. 26-27 at the Cardinal Invitational in Louisville, Ky.