Q&A: Florida coach Jan Dowling

University of Florida head coach Jan Dowling, right, and Mia Piccio during the Hooters Collegiate Match Play Championship.

University of Florida head coach Jan Dowling, right, and Mia Piccio during the Hooters Collegiate Match Play Championship.

Today on Wildman’s Corner, we check in with Florida coach Jan Dowling. Over the weekend her team won the Liz Murphey, but didn’t leave with a trophy. Scratching your head? I was too, so I asked the coach all about it.

Question: You’re in your second year as the head coach at Florida. How have things gone since you have taken over the team?

Answer: It has been great. I have really enjoyed working with the girls and getting to know them since I took over. Recruiting has gone really well, and my time here has been exciting. The girls are constantly getting better, and I’m glad to be a part of some place special.

Question: Each week it seems it’s a battle between USC and UCLA for the top spot in the rankings. What’s your take on the rankings this year in women’s golf?

Answer: It has been a lot of the same teams, but you are starting to see different programs jumping up the rankings. Each year you can see that there is more depth, and that goes toward the amount of quality recruits that are out there. More and more schools are making strides with depth, recruiting and facilities, and the sport has so many great people in it. Swing instructors, coaches and players are all making the quality of the sport top notch. It’s cool seeing different teams at different events, because it’s fun to have new competition every once and a while. USC, UCLA and Purdue are playing really well right now, but in a few more years I think you’ll see a couple new teams at the top of the rankings.

• • •

Question: When you found out the Liz Murphey had a new scoring system of all five of your girls playing the same hole, and the best four for that hole counting, what did you think?

Answer: I was excited. I know from a coaching perspective my assistant and I were really interested in something like this. I never get to watch all five of my players at once, so this gave my assistant and I the opportunity to do so. What’s good is that it allowed me to see what each player had to work on as I was there taking notes on all of them. Also, the team enjoyed the format because they got to play together. Only negative I had with it, though, was that it was real slow. We had 23 teams there and I don’t think the pace of play would have been better with 18 teams. Every hole you have five players, and while one is shooting that means you have four that are waiting and doing nothing. In a normal format, only two girls are waiting. The rounds lasted around 7 hours, and maybe the tournament can make some revisions to speed that up for the future. It was a cool experience and great for team camaraderie, because this truly was a team performance.

• • •

Question: Due to the format you came in fifth, but as far as Golfweek rankings and NCAA results go, you came in first with the five-count-four format. Were you and the girls bummed to leave Georgia without a trophy knowing you really won?

Answer: It’s OK. We played well and we know how we shot in both formats. I’m not going to look back and question it because I know how my girls played and how they especially did in that last, final round. It was one of the best showings since I have been here, and no matter what the format is it was one of our best rounds either way. I’m not disappointed that we didn’t bring home a trophy, because I left knowing my team is getting better and that they know how to compete.

• • •

Question: Were the girls angry in the van?

Answer: Honestly, the team handled the whole situation amazingly, and that’s a huge feather in their cap to them. The girls know what they did and what they accomplished. They felt good playing in this format and and left happy knowing how well they played in the tournament. I think my girls had fun and enjoyed the format because it was a nice change of pace. I don’t think every week this is the type of format we would want to play in, but once a year it would be fun. This isn’t the way the NCAA Championship is played, so it’s not a format I would want the team to get used to.

• • •

Question: Million dollar question: How can we make college golf more exciting? How can we get people to come out and watch?

Answer: Well, the truth is golf isn’t that exciting in general. For the average sports fan, college golf is confusing to follow with the whole five-count-four scoring system. I don’t think many people understand the throw-out score. Not only that, but if someone was following a team at a tournament that throw-out score is always changing, so it can really get confusing for the average fan. College golf is what it is, and you either want to follow it or you don’t. I think that people who are a part of it or choose to follow it and absolutely love it, and for others it’s their loss. People who love the sport already are the fans that are great for the game. Once you are a part of the sport and love everything about it, you’re a fan for life. We just need to get people more familiar with the game and format in order to grow the sport.

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