What it takes to be successful as a collegiate golfer, according to a top college coach

University of Florida men’s golf coach JC Deacon is heading into his eighth year at the Division I school, and as a former collegiate player with PGA Tour aspirations, Deacon is well-positioned to help guide his young players on their competitive golf journeys.

On this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon, Deacon explained how his experience has informed his team policies over the years.

“I’ve changed a lot in my seven years as a head coach,” Deacon said. “My first year at Florida, I gave my guys so much freedom and kind of let them do their thing. We were at a different point as a program. But it worked really well. We had a great year that year, nothing was expected of us, and we ended up playing in the national championship at Concession and finished the year ranked 27th in the country. It was awesome.

oklahoma-state-ncaa-win.jpg
NCAA votes to allow athletes to profit from name, image and likeness
By: Josh Berhow

“But I saw a lot of freshman over the years really struggle,” he continued. “Struggle with their golf, struggle with their GPA, struggle socially, struggle to manage their time. So, just through learning, we put a lot of structure in place. And when you get to the University of Florida now, I’m gonna know where you are, at least in the early time, at all times. I’m gonna have someone watching out for you. You’re gonna have to have a tutor, you’re gonna have to have a strategist that helps you plan your days, plan your classes, plan when you’re gonna do your schoolwork.”

Deacon says the addition of former PGA Tour pro Dudley Hart to the coaching staff has added an extra element to the players’ schedules, since Hart has a very specific way he wants the guys to practice.

“Our guys’ lives are very structured now,” Deacon said. “But we only get to control 20 hours. So there’s a lot of other time that I’m not around that I don’t get to see. And essentially, I believe, those are the hours that are going to define who makes it and who doesn’t. Are you staying out late? Are you drinking? Are you spending too much time on video games? The players are too good these days to waste too much time.”

For more from Deacon, including why today’s collegiate players have a new mindset, and what it takes to get noticed by a top college program, check out the full interview below.

Jessica Marksbury
Golf.com

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.