University of Georgia (UGA) men’s golf coach Chris Haack described his approach with a team that has included Bubba Watson, Kevin Kisner, Russell Henley and Brian Harman when he spoke at a Masters Week breakfast Wednesday.
Haack, who went to UGA in 1996 from the American Junior Golf Association, and Greg Powers, PGA pro and director of U.S. Kids Golf, each spoke at the breakfast hosted by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Warren Road Baptist Church.
“These kids are all so different, and you just try to put them in one big melting pot and have them become a team with the goal of obviously going on to bigger and better things in life,” Haack said.
Unlike many programs, Haack said he makes each player compete every time to play on the traveling team.
“You’re constantly trying to figure out who your five guys are going to be,” he said. “One of my philosophies from Day 1 has been I never protected anybody.”
That has meant some of the world’s best golfers didn’t always get to play on UGA’s team.
“For 22 years, I’ve had only three players that never missed a tournament,” he said. They were Kisner, Henley and Harman.
“The rest of the team had to deal with adversity and not make it and watch the van leave and work a little harder to get back in that lineup,” Haack said. “They come back and tell me, ‘Don’t ever change. That’s what made us stronger.’”
A core value of the team is honesty, he said.
“The single biggest thing they’ve got to have in that whole arena is honest within themselves,” he said, “because you’ve got to be willing to call out a teammate if he’s not doing the right things. He’s got to be able to call you out and you’ve got to be able to accept that.”
It’s a stark contrast with regular golf, when each player is on their own, he said.
A Navy SEAL recently talked to the team about working together, Haack said.
“One of the greatest philosophies he gave my guys is you look out for everybody else before you look out for you,” Haack said.