Martin makes cut at Albertsons Boise Open
Casey Martin isn’t following his own advice, but it seems to be working. “I’m embarrassed to say this, but I don’t even practice my short game,” he said. “Everything I tell my team not to do, I do.”
Any college coach will tell you it’s impossible for his team to spend enough time on its short games. The majority of collegians overlook that important aspect of the game.
Martin, the head coach at Oregon, loves to beat balls and tinker with his swing instead of working on his chipping and putting. That approach has been working as Martin has returned to competition for the first time since 2006. Martin finished 55th at the Web.com Tour’s Albertsons Boise Open, which ended Sept. 16, after shooting 7-under 277 (68-67-70-72) at Hillcrest Country Club.
He made headlines earlier this year when he qualified for the U.S. Open and missed the cut by a shot. He also has a sponsor exemption into the PGA Tour’s Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open Oct. 4-7 in Las Vegas. There will be plenty of short-game work before that event, Martin promised.
“I’ve always hit balls on my own time just because it’s the only thing cardiovascular that I can do,” said Martin, who won one Web.com Tour title and played the PGA Tour before becoming Oregon’s head coach. “It’s kind of a stress relief and I enjoy tinkering.”
Martin has been working on his swing with former PGA Tour winner Grant Waite and Waite’s partner, Joe Mayo. Waite started teaching after recently retiring from competitive golf. Waite and Mayo have instructed Martin while also teaching him how to utilize TrackMan to coach his team.
Martin has no starts lined up after Las Vegas, but said he’d be open to competing more often. “If I’m competitive and can make make cuts and do something, then I’d like to maybe play a little bit if the opportunity arises,” he said. “But after beating my brains in for a week out here, I’m thankful for my job.”
Illinois head coach Mike Small – like Martin, a former PGA Tour player – has shown that it’s possible to compete on Tour and run a successful program. Small has said the publicity he received from playing is one reason for Illinois’s recent success. The Illini have won four consecutive Big Ten titles and produced two of the past three NCAA individual champions. Small has won three PGA Professional National Championships and competed in eight PGA Championships.
Martin said competing will allow him to gain information that can “trickle down” to his players.
“It’s not a lot of golf swing stuff, just how guys manage their games and handle adversity,” Martin said. “You get to realize that you don’t have to be Tiger Woods to make a living at this game. It helps, but there’s a lot of guys out here who don’t have that talent but have carved out a niche. It’s important to tell the guys that they can carve that niche out themselves if they’re willing to work for it.”
Martin will have a young roster for this season’s first event, the Husky Invitational in Bremerton, Wash. That event begins Monday, the day after the Boise Open. He has two freshmen (Sulman Raza, Brandon McIver) and two sophomores (Rak Cho, Jonathan Woo), as well as senior Robbie Ziegler in the lineup after two first-team All-Americans – Eugene Wong completed their eligibility after last season.
Those players would be well-served to take advice from their successful coach, even if sometimes he doesn’t follow it.