By Anne Larsen
In his second year as the Tumwater High School (THS) Girls Golf Coach, Brent Bryant has one thing on his mind – win, win, win! With his passion, love, and motivation for coaching and the game of golf, the THS girls golf team will likely grow into fierce competitors with a winning record.
“I love the game, love to teach and coach the game and love the competition. I feel myself and the team will only get better,” says Bryant.
Coach Bryant graduated from Tumwater High School in 1992 as a three-year letterman and a two-time state participant in golf. He has been a golf instructor since 1996 and learned to teach the game from one of the best instructors in the country, PGA Master professional Joe Theil. He not only coaches the THS girls, but has his own business – Bryant Golf Instruction, and enjoys spending time on the golf course with his 5-year-old daughter.
Coaching is his goal and passion. “I made coaching a goal of mine about 3 years ago while going through some tough times in life. I knew teaching and coaching were something that made me happy and I wanted to get back to that. The thing I love about the game is its all on you, meaning you can’t blame anyone but yourself.”
The Turn-Around Team!
The Tumwater Girls Golf team has eleven golfers, with only two returning starters from last year. Coach Bryant has had to overcome the previous coaching style and format, with a fairly young team, but he’s done so. Tumwater had its first winning season in over 10 years last year, and he plans to build on that this year and for the years to come.
“Last year was one of the best years in school history as we finished 6-3. Freshman Kayla Monroe finished 12th at state. We had a lot of kids improve tremendously. I would hope over time to improve on that and to start placing better as a team in districts and state. The ultimate goal is winning state as a team and also individually. We have a long way to go but I feel we can get there,” reports Bryant.
Practice, Practice, Practice
“I am a big believer in drills and practicing perfect. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but perfect practice does.” Coach Bryant is building confidence in his team by making them better golfers, which in-turn builds even more confidence. He demands that every day they bring their best and continually motivates the girls by bringing in motivational speakers like legendary Tumwater football coach, Sid Otton and others to teach mental toughness, stretching, and various workouts.
No golf course is the same. “In a tournament you play yourself, the course, and your opponent. In other sports, the fields or courts are always the same. In golf, you have to prepare for slower or faster surfaces, bigger, rougher, more water or sand traps. It’s always different and it’s the most mentally challenging game I have ever done,” comments Bryant.
A typical THS practice involves working on all three aspects of the game: driving, chipping and putting. Practice is broken down into half-hour intervals and they always finish with a competition. Even though golf is an individual sport, this is where the team-building portion of the practice comes in. The girls encourage and critique each other while Coach Bryant shows them what he sees in the swing so they can help their teammate out when he’s not available.
The THS girls are taking their skills and helping their coach with a summer golf camp. “The girls ran the camp and raised money for the team as well as getting volunteer hours for school. It was great to see my golfers teaching the youth what I had taught them. They really enjoyed the experience and we plan to do it again this year.”
“Golf is like life.”
“You have your ups and downs, but it’s how you deal with them that will make you either great or average.” Coach Bryant teaches the girls that they can’t let a few bad shots ruin the whole round. They need to concentrate on what they can control, which is the next shot. He teaches them to respect the course, and their opponent, and hopes that at the end of the day they walk away from this experience having become better golfers and better people.
A Players Perspective
Three of Coach Bryant’s players sat down with me before practice to tell me their experiences with Coach Bryant, the THS golf program, and the game of golf.
On one end of the spectrum, Bailey Elders started playing her Freshman year, because her best friend was trying out, so she decided to try out also. The only real golfing she’d done before that was putt-putt! Taylor Grisham just started this summer, while on the other end of the spectrum, Kayla Monroe has been golfing since she’s been 8 years old. Kayla, who went to state last year, has been seriously golfing since the 7th grade.
All of the girls like the sport of golf because you can see the improvements you’ve made along the way. The fact that golf is an individual sport and “puts the pressure all on you!” is a factor that all girls liked. It’s not to say they don’t have team spirit or like their teammates, they do! “We all get along, we are encouraging and supportive,” says one of the girls. But being in a sport that allows them to just rely upon themselves was what drew them to the sport of golf.
The misconceptions of golf are crushed with these three. They are not old (rumor has it people think it’s an old person sport), it’s not a “hobby” and it’s HARD to hit a golf ball!
Under the tutelage of Coach Bryant, Bailey hopes to keep improving, Taylor wants to hit more consistent scores, and Kayla would like to be consistent at 40 and be in the Top 3 at Districts. “Coach Bryant knows what he’s doing and his drills help. He’s patient and puts up with all the girlie stuff. He actually wants us to improve and watches us play.”
“Coach Bryant tell us to always compete and not to lose!”
Thinking of trying out for golf? You should! Go out and practice – hit some balls and see if you like it. Remember, everyone starts somewhere.
“It’s different than any sport. The team has a lot of great people on it, golf is fun and you can play it forever.”