The third in our series of profiles of local college golf programs. Matthew Pokigo, head coach of the Daemen College men’s golf team, completed our questionnaire, and we are extremely grateful.
1. What do you bring to your program that is unique to college golf?
Having the opportunity to Coach a program that I was once apart of as a player is a truly rewarding experience. Therefore, the sense of pride associated with the school and team is one aspect of what I believe I bring to the program that is unique.
2. Where does your team have practice access and what does this course access contribute to your program?
We have full access to the practice facility and golf course at Brierwood Country Club (Hamburg) during the fall and spring.
3. What fitness/non-golf activities do you employ and how do they make your team members better, fitter golfers?
During the off-season, we meet one day a week as a team to workout. Furthermore, team members are required to workout two additional days on their own, utilizing golf specific exercises introduced by our Head Athletic Trainer, Jeff Sage and PGA Teaching Professional, Gary Occhino. These golf specific fitness activities are focused on improving flexibility and mobility, while strengthening the core and lower-body. In addition, we work hard on the mental and emotional part of the game. This is an aspect of the game which is often over-looked, but contributes to the betterment of each golfer on and off the course.
4. What short-term goals do you have for your team and how will you reach them?
In addition to competing for a Conference Championship on an annual basis, a short-term team goal I have for my team is for each individual to focus on doing their best at becoming the most well rounded student-athlete possible.
5. How much does a player’s potential go into the recruiting process?
I definitely think that a player’s potential is an element that shold be considered in the recruiting process. However, a players tournament performance and experience is most critical. Also, the player has to be the right fit for the team and school both academically and athletically.
6. What factor do golfing alumni play in your program?
Golf alumni have made a profound impact on our young program (started in 1999). My two assistants are both golf alumni and are committed to giving back. In addition, we recently started a golf alumni event played during the summer to keep former players connected.
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?
It is imperative that each player have individual goals. Should each player attain those individual goals set, then I believe the team goals will be realized and some level of success will be generated.
8. How does the weather affect your training program during the winter? How do you combat it?
Over the off-season, we practice at Wehrle Golf Dome (Williamsville) and utilize simulators at The Village Greens (Orchard Park). Access to each of these venues allow for continued player development year round which is important given the inclement weather we have during the winter.
9. What areas of the country are your key recruiting areas?
I prefer to recruit locally, but will consider any prospect from the Northeast (eg. NY, PA, OH, Canada, etc.) that would be a good fit.
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?
In order to make collegiate golf better in WNY, indoor facilities must be improved to include state-of-the-art short-game areas. I also believe collegiate golf and talent in WNY could be improved by having high school players compete from futher back tee-boxes and offering more summer tournaments. Further, I believe existing programs in the area should create a showcase event, where each collegiate team irrespective of level compete at a rotating venue allowing for local coaches and players to attend.