TSU Men's Golf Progression Featured in The Tennessean
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Championship shows how far TSU golf program has come
by Joe Biddle • THE TENNESSEAN
 
When Tennessee State started a golf program several years ago, the school had trouble finding enough golfers to field a team.

The football coach at the time made some of his players play on the golf team. He figured walking 18 holes would be good exercise for them. Their scorecards looked more like the national debt.

I recall one of the football players on the golf team was deathly afraid of snakes, thus when one of his shots went in the woods, he wasn't about to go look for it.

TSU's golf program has come light years from those days.

It got a real shot in the arm when former Austin Peay golfer Chip Taylor was hired two years ago. He coaches the men and women's teams. He has no assistant coach to help, but does have the NCAA maximum number of 4½ scholarships. The program had slipped in recent years, and Taylor had his work cut out for him.

Everything came together last week as the Tigers came from 10 shots down starting the final round to beat Bethune-Cookman College by a stroke, winning the 23rd PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championships at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

It was a van full of happy Tigers on the 14-hour ride home.

"The whole time they talked about next year,'' said Taylor, a 39-year-old Jackson native who graduated from Battle Ground Academy. "Everybody is back and they're already looking forward to it.''

Taylor feels his team is making progress.

"They've gotten better each year,'' he said. "We could never put three or four solid rounds together for one tournament. We finished sixth in the OVC Tournament and that was TSU's best finish in five-six years. I really like the way they played.''

It all clicked on the final round last Sunday, when three of his players shot sub-par rounds. It didn't begin that way. On the first hole, Taylor said his players had two double bogeys and a bogey, while Bethune-Cookman opened with two birdies on the first hole.

"I knew then we were at least 15 shots behind,'' Taylor said.

He checked with his golfers halfway through the round and knew they had gained ground. On the 14th hole, TSU freshman Dorian Vauls holed out from the fairway for an eagle while the Bethune-Cookman player in Vauls' group 3-putted.

"I told our guys they had a chance to win, to keep grinding it out,'' Taylor said.

"The last group was a hole behind and Chris Seibel made a birdie on 17 to take a two-shot lead. I told Chris he needed to par 18 and we would win. He made par and the Bethune-Cookman player made birdie, and we won by one shot.''

One thing stood out to Taylor. They won the tournament, yet no TSU player made all-tournament.

"That means we have depth,'' Taylor said.

No, it means you have a team, Coach — a championship team.