Golf Q&A: Arkansas coach Brad McMakin
Thursday, May 04, 2017
Brad McMakin is in his 11th year as the head men's golf coach at the University of Arkansas. The 2009 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Coach of the Year, McMakin has led the Razorbacks to 22 tournament wins, including 17 during the last six seasons.
Under McMakin's leadership, Arkansas has appeared in the NCAA Championships three of the last four years, and the Razorbacks were NCAA runners-up in 2009. He has coached 18 All-SEC players, Six All-SEC Freshman and 15 Ping All-America selections in his 10 years.
Before starting at Arkansas, McMakin spent 10 years coaching for Lamar University where in 2006 he led the Cardinals to their first trip to the NCAA Championships in 20 years. He is a five-time Southland Conference Coach of the Year.
As a player, McMakin played for Lamar before transferring to the University of Oklahoma, where he helped the Sooners win a National Championship in 1989.
We talked to Coach McMakin this week after it was announced that The Blessings Golf Course in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the home course for the Razorbacks, would be hosting the 2019 Men's and Women's NCAA Championships.
Coach, you are currently in your 11th year as head coach at Arkansas after a very successful run at Lamar University. What were some of the things about the school that made you believe the golf program could become a national contender each year?
There are three reasons that made me believe Arkansas was the place I could have a consistent program on a national level, year in and year out.
First were the facilities. I'm biased, but I believe Arkansas has the best golf facilities in the country. We provide the student-athletes with everything they need from a championship course to premier practice areas, in the best condition on a daily basis.
Second is the proximity of our facility to campus. Being within five miles, we spend very little time in the car. Lastly being in the Southeastern Conference. I believe that the SEC is consistently the best golf conference from top to bottom each year, which provides us with a chance to compete with the best of the best, year in and year out.
The Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas, was recently announced as the site of the 2019 Men's and Women's NCAA Championships. Walk us through how the process worked and what you think were the key reasons why the Arkansas home course was selected?
The process started in 2013 when we hosted the Regional Championship with the vision of an NCAA Championship in the future. We wanted to showcase what we had to offer.
I believe it was a success for two reasons. The course held its own from a scoring perspective. There were scores ranging from 65 to 85 which led to separation, which we all look for in a Championship. Also, it was run to perfection from our administration to the staff at The Blessings.
It was a first-class event in 2013, and it will be even better in 2019.
Regarding the course, it is considered to be one of the most difficult any college team plays in the country. Currently, there are major course renovations underway. Give us an overview of these and how they will affect the playability of the course, the difficulty factor.
The course is undergoing some renovations to enhance the student-athletes' experience in 2019. The renovations are to create a better walking route, and we have cut off a mile-and-a-half of the walk, which will help speed of play.
It will also create a greater challenge, although in my opinion it will provide a fairer test. The renovations will create an awesome experience and provide some exciting match play drama.
You better bring your A game because it definitely didn't get any easier.
Arkansas and Fayetteville are considered a great college sports state and town. Give us a feel for the type of support you believe the tournaments will have. How involved will you be in the planning for the event?
The University of Arkansas is a unique place in that there are no professional teams in the state, and we are the largest university in Arkansas. We have a very large and loyal fan base that supports all of our sports.
We will get an overwhelming amount of support from our fans, volunteers and the university. Being that we host few golf championships, the hype will be exciting not only in Fayetteville but throughout the state of Arkansas.
Our administration and staff did an incredible job during the Regionals in 2013 and is very prepared to host the NCAA Championship. My involvement will be just assisting in any way that I can with the NCAA committee or course set up. The Blessings staff as a committee is committed to hosting a first-class event.
Give us your thoughts on what hosting the National Championship will mean to your program both short and long term?
Hosting the 2019 National Golf Championship will be an exciting time for Arkansas. Bringing the best amateur golfers from all over the world to our home state and The Blessings Golf Club will benefit both our men's and women's programs in many ways.
Anytime you get to showcase your university and its commitment to excellence, along with your amazing facilities, it can only enhance your programs. With the tournament being on The Golf Channel, we will get coverage that will help us both short and long term in recruiting.
You played collegiately at the University of Oklahoma where you were on the team that won the NCAA Championship in 1989. That year, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State co-hosted the championship at Oak Tree. Looking back, from the perspective of a player, what do you remember from that experience, and how will hosting potentially affect how you prepare your team?
1989 was a special year for Coach Gregg Grost and the University of Oklahoma golf program, winning the school's only golf National Championship. Being a member of that program has been a major factor in my success as a coach.
The one experience that I recall was the daily preparation Gregg had the team focus on from the first day of practice. His goal was to always have us prepared for the postseason. He preached patience, hard work and mental toughness. His teams were always mentally ready for the biggest stage and playing their best at the right time.
This has been a guideline I have used throughout my career and will use to prepare our team in 2019.
Finally, can you share any special congratulatory calls or mail from the alumni since the championship site selection was announced?
When the news was announced, my phone started to blow up at 12:01. I had so many calls from alumni and fans from across the state. I don't want to leave anyone out, so I will just say that everyone in Razorback nation is extremely thrilled and will support the 2019 NCAA National Championship with extreme dedication to make it the best championship ever.
There is one person who I would like to thank: John Tyson, the owner of The Blessings Golf Club. He had this vision a long time ago and wants to give back to college golf because he has a passion and appreciation for the game.
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