Madison Turner, Darton’s No. 2 golfer heading into today’s opening tournament of the spring season, is one of six freshmen on the Cavs’ 10-man roster.
ALBANY — Cavs golf coach Bill Jones III hasn’t walked in Darton’s gym and found any of his golfers asleep on the floor before this season’s brand new 6:30 a.m. workouts.
Not yet anyway.
“Most of them get in there, and the first thing they do is lay down until everybody else gets there,” Jones said. “If they can get through those workouts and keep coming at 6:30 in the morning on days they want to sleep in, it helps their mental toughness.”
The early-morning sessions are part of Jones’ regimen this spring as the Cavs try to rebound after a disappointing fall season where they didn’t finish better than third in any of their five tournaments and shot below 300 as a team just twice.
It was a fall that wasn’t acceptable for a golf program that has had incredible success at the junior college level, including 11 straight trips to the national tournament and three straight national titles from 2005-07.
So Jones decided it was time to dust off the alarm clocks.
“The first day wasn’t too hard to get up, but it keeps getting harder and harder,” freshman Madison Turner said about the workouts, which are designed to strengthen the core and flexibility. “You are hurting, but you have five more seconds to fight through it and keep pushing. And you have to keep pushing, no matter how tired you are.”
Turner and his teammates have pushed right through the early mornings and straight into the 2013 spring season, which begins today with the opening round of the Titan Winter Invitational in Melbourne, Fla.
The Cavs aren’t ranked in any national preseason polls, and they don’t even have a golfer ranked in the Top 30 individually, but they believe the depth and the talent is there to carry them to their 12th straight Region XVII title and another national championship appearance.
“I think we can be one of the best teams in the country if the sophomores keep playing well and the freshmen play like I know we can,” Turner said. “We really just need to mature on the golf course.”
Turner is one of six freshmen on the Cavs’ 10-man roster, which is headlined by sophomore Nick Green, who will play No. 1 during the 54-hole opening tournament.
“The freshmen are probably further along than we were during my freshman year,” Green said. “We are very deep, and we can rely on our four and five guys more than we could last year.”
Turner will play the No. 2 spot, followed by sophomore Robert Robertson and freshmen Taylor Martin and Parks Brown, respectively.
Freshman TaeHyung Kim would have likely been a Top 5 player as well, but the South Korean native is battling a sore back and will sit out the opening tournament.
Nobody on Darton’s current roster played in last season’s national tournament, where the Cavs finished fifth behind star sophomores Joe Sakulpolphaisan and Shad Tuten.
But every member of this year’s squad was a part of last season’s disastrous fall, which brought more headaches than it did birdies.
“We never even got into a chance to win a tournament,” Green said. “This semester we would like to put ourselves in more opportunities to win and play solid from the get go instead of being down 15 to 20 shots going into the last round and not having a chance.”
Jones and his players expect much more out of the spring.
“We are expecting a lot from these guys and are putting a lot of pressure on them to get those results, but the more pressure we put on them and the more experience they get, the more likely they are to mature quicker and play well for us,” Jones said.