Robert Simms, women’s and men’s golf coach at St. John Fisher in Pittsford (near Rochester), took some time out of his day to answer our questions on the SJF golf programs.
1. What do you bring to your program that is unique to college golf?
At St. John Fisher College we provide both the men’s, and women’s program an opportunity to be successful both on the golf course, and in the classroom. Our goal as a team, and individuals is to get better every day. We do this by applying measurable standards for each team member to accomplish. This is demonstrated by receiving academic awards for both our teams last year. This is shown on the golf course by our continued excellence in the NCAA Division III level. Our program is built on the backs of people with character. Character is the most important trait that I look for in a golf recruit.
2. Where does your team have practice access and what does this course access contribute to your program?
We practice at Midvale Country Club, and Cobblestone Creek Country Club. They are each different in terms of design. We prepare to play in tournaments through the use of these courses. Midvale Country Club is a tree lined old style golf course, while Cobblestone Creek Country Club is newer with a links type design.
3. What fitness/non-golf activities do you employ and how do they make your team members better, fitter golfers?
I am a firm believer in our golfers being in great physical condition. This helps each player stay away from injuries, and allows us the ability to finish strong each day of a tournament. With the help of our trainer we set up individual work out regimens for each of our players during the fall season. We monitor the results during the fall season, and throughout the spring season
4. What short-term goals do you have for your team and how will you reach them?
Our goal is to get better each, and every day at practice, and at tournaments. Our specific goal is to win the Empire 8 Conference Championship. With that comes a berth in the NCAA Division III Golf Championships. We have won eight conference championships since 2000.
5. How much does a player’s potential go into the recruiting process?
We have been very successful recruiting good players to come to St. John Fisher College. In our recruiting process we look at high school results, but more importantly we look at the results of summer tournaments. This is a good indication of what to expect from an incoming recruit. We tend to find that those that are able to improve each summer will most likely improve throughout their college careers. We start looking at freshman, and continue to their junior year, and then decide if we are going to start the recruiting process with them.
6. What factor do golfing alumni play in your program?
They are very critical to the future success of our golf program. All of our previous five Division III All Americans, as well as our Division III Player of the Year have come back and addressed the current team telling them the opportunity ahead of them. It is more than the donations that they make, but it is important that the alumni welcome each new player to our golf family.
7. Golf is an individual sport that is played in team format at the collegiate level. How do you balance players’ individual and team goals?
By putting the team first actually helps the individual accomplish their personal goals. We stress that each shot makes a difference. One shot can make us win, or lose. Our players focus on a game plan that is laid out after the practice round. When they focus on the execution of the game plan, then, and only then will they be able to accomplish both personal, and team goals.
8. How does the weather affect your training program during the winter? How do you combat it?
We have a good indoor practice facility on campus that we use during the winter months. The winter time is a great time to get bigger, stronger, and better through our weight training, and conditioning program. There is really nothing to combat. We get stronger during the winter months both mentally, and physically.
9. What areas of the country are your key recruiting areas?
We recruit in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Canada.
10. What element besides weather could make collegiate golf in western New York better/How can the existing programs work together to make better college golf in WNY?
The college coaches should get together, and initiate golf tournaments around New York State for college golfers only.