With the regular season complete for the Tennessee men's golf team, they now set their sights on the SEC Championships this coming week.
No. 23 Tennessee finished its regular season at the Insperity Augusta Invitational where it placed sixth. It was an encouraging weekend for the team as they finished ahead of eight Top 50 teams."It was a tougher field than we've had the last couple weekends," Oliver Goss said. "But it is a lot better to play against those tougher teams."
With their thoughts focused on the SEC Championships, the team will be using the week ahead to prepare for the tough conditions at the Sea Island Golf Club.
"We (Goss, Jay Vandeventer and Rick Lamb) are going to put our heads together this week and put together what our game plan is going to be down there," senior golfer Jay Vandeventer said. "We'll practice a lot of the shots we're going to face while we're down there."
For the freshman Goss, having upperclassmen like Lamb and Vandeventer who have played the course before to learn from will help his preparation for the postseason.
"Their experience is invaluable," Goss said. "To have been down there and played the course will be big. I will (be) listening very intently in the practice rounds and team meetings in order to know the course before we go down there."
For Vandeventer he will be focusing on the mental aspect and pre-round preparation for the tough conditions at Sea Island."This is going to be my fourth year playing down there for the SECs so I am pretty familiar with the course down there," he said. "It's a really good golf course and the wind makes it even tougher. We pretty much know where we need to play from, it's just working on keeping the ball down and practicing the different shots we're going to face."
For senior Rick Lamb, he will prepare by working on his short game for the difficulty lies around the greens."It's really tough around the greens, so this week just really grinding on my short game to make sure that is locked up," Lamb said.
Casey VanDamme, assistant coach and director of instruction, echoed Lamb's statements.
"We have a very good ball striking team," he said. "We need to work on short game, putting and green reading. Those are the main things we need to do." As for the other two slots available on the Tennessee roster, the coaches entered the younger players in an extra tournament this past weekend to give them experience and see who is playing well enough to take to Georgia.
"We're sending the younger guys down to get some more work in," VanDamme said. "We need to fill out the other two spots to take down to Georgia with us so we'll see where we stand after this weekend."
The team has also had some help from the grounds crew at the Mack and Jonnie Day Golf Facility. Superintendent Mark Gossett has trimmed the grass to give the players as realistic a setting as possible as the Vols prepare for the conference championship.
"They sped the greens up for us, shaved some of the grass to make some tight lies around the chipping green," Vandeventer said. "It will help us figure out the course."