Colorado Mesa program growing with Brown at helm
SUNRIVER, Ore. –- Paul Brown has found a way to build a competitive college golf team on a shoestring budget. Coaching golf isn’t even his day job, but in his third year at the helm of the Colorado Mesa program, he’s taken a business approach to growing this team and the results are beginning to show.
Of the 13 teams in the field at the Golfweek Division II Fall Invitational, Colorado Mesa might have arrived at Crosswater with the most style. The team made its first trip to Oregon this week in a private plane. The story behind that ride is extensive.
Brown, president and owner of Monument Oil Company in Grand Junction, Colo., found a donor in good friend Jack Hays. Brown knew Hays, who also works in the oil industry, in junior high and high school. The two recently rekindled their friendship as Hays had a desire to get back into golf. Brown, who played college golf at Arizona, offered swing lessons in exchange for use of Hays’ Conquest Turboprop jet.
“I tell him it’s $2,000 an hour, so we trade for the airplane,” Brown jokes.
The team will also take the jet to next week’s West Texas A&M Invitational in Amarillo, Texas.
Colorado Mesa’s golf program began just four years ago, and it’s one of 21 collegiate sports the school sponsors. The golf budget was small when Brown began as a volunteer coach in the fall of 2009. He had no scholarship players that first year, but the team qualified for NCAA Regional play anyway. Since then, his budget has grown significantly, in part because of Brown’s ability to find funds from other sources.
“I’ve found other resources and sources to help build the program slowly, but I think we’re doing it the right way,” he said.
Brown is trying to build his program with local players before he branches out to international recruits. His No. 1 player, Brandon Bingaman of Grand Junction, Colo., is among the top 20 players in Golfstat’s head-to-head rankings.
“Some of the schools in our conference have kids from England and France and Mexico but until we get sufficient funding, and have enough scholarship money, we’ll do with what we can deal with and who we can recruit,” Brown said.
So far, that strategy is working. The Mavericks arrived in Sunriver after top-5 finishes in their two starts already this fall. They were runner-up at the Oredigger Invitational on Sept. 25 after shooting a school-record 8-under 280 in the final round.