Inner-team competition is key to success for Baylor men’s golf

Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics Goals are in sight for the next season to come.

By George Schroeder | LTVN Executive Producer

Another season of Baylor men’s golf is ready to tee off in Minneapolis, Minn., and with rising talent on the roster, the team may find its footing through inner-team competition.

Senior Johnny Keefer said after a rough previous season, he hopes the team will start a new year strong, beginning with the Gopher Invitational on Sunday.

“We have some young guys who are hungry, we added a few freshmen,” Keefer said. “There’s just a lot of desire to be good on this team.”

That hunger can be found on a relatively fresh roster, with half of the team either brand new or coming off a season of sparing play. Head coach Mike McGraw said the new and returning talent will shift the dynamics of the team.

“There will be a whole lot more competition for a spot than there was last year,” McGraw said. “These guys are all competitors, so I think they will rise to the occasion. I can’t see how competition could be a bad thing.”

According to Keefer, a dose of competition between the athletes is healthy because starting spots aren’t just given out, they have to be earned, especially with a young team.

“Everyone’s out here to try and earn their spot and to try and prove to themselves, to the coaches, to the team, that they’re valuable and that they’re going to make a contribution to this team,” Keefer said.

Golf isn’t like other sports, in that not being a starter in an event essentially means most players won’t compete for the entire week. There are no substitutions on the course. As Coach McGraw said, “It’s do or die.”

“You get in the lineup or you don’t,” McGraw said. “Even if there’s a little bit of friction now and again, you know about ‘who travels, who doesn’t, who’s starting, who’s not.’ If you’re in the lineup, you have a chance to help the team.”

Keefer said he had some goals of his own this season, including gaining status with aspirations of being able to go pro this year. He called for the team to stay focused and fight for a slot every week, and he sent a final message to their outside competition this year.

“Watch out for us,” Keefer said. “I think we’re going to be dangerous.”

Looking ahead, McGraw said the team is ready to take on the Big 12, which, according to him, is the conference with the steepest golf competition.

“We should be competitive,” McGraw said. “I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t be. The progress has been made and we’re getting ready to go play a pretty good couple of tournaments right in a row.”

The Bears kick off the season at the Gopher Invitational Sunday, followed by the Fighting Illini Invitational on Sept. 16 and Southern Methodist University’s Trinity Forest Invitational on Oct. 2.

George Schroeder is a senior at Baylor University majoring in journalism. Currently the only student on his 4th year with the Lariat, he is the executive producer for Lariat TV News, he has worked as the managing editor, a broadcast reporter and an anchor for the program. In 2022 he was named the Baylor Department of Student Media’s “Broadcaster of the Year” and the inaugural winner of the Rick Bradfield Award for Breaking News Coverage. During his time with the Lariat, he has served as a member of the Editorial Board, a sportswriter and an opinion writer. He is a contracted cadet in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps and will commission as an officer into the United States Air Force after graduation in 2024.