With the fall season nearly halfway completed, The Daily’s Cameron Miller spoke with men’s golf senior Patrick Grimes to discuss the team’s recent play, the absence of Stanford greats Cameron Wilson and Patrick Rodgers and the team’s overall outlook as it marches toward the spring campaign.
Cameron Miller (CM): How does it feel to be the only senior on this year’s roster?
Patrick Grimes (PG): It definitely was an experience I was not expecting. Coming into my freshman year, there were three in my recruiting class…It’s definitely a unique position for me; it’s the first time it’s been that way in quite some time. It’s new territory, but I’m trying to really embrace an active role as a senior leader.
CM: How have you taken on an increased leadership role this year, especially with the absence of veterans like Cam and Patrick?
PG: I’ve tried to embrace and embody a lot of the things that I learned from those guys. There’s a lot that can be taken away from guys like Cameron and Patrick, in two ways really. First, with their level of play their whole time here: I learned a lot from them in terms of what it means to play good college golf.
And also, what it meant to be a leader. Patrick was a great leader on our team last year…Cameron played an extremely active role as a senior. So I think keeping that culture going of having a group of guys who are closely-knit; I think that’s something we have more than other teams, and I’ve really tried to keep that philosophy going.
CM: You were in the same recruiting class as Patrick, and had the opportunity to be Cameron’s teammate for three years as well. What are the most important lessons you learned from those two guys?
PG: They really had a great understanding of what they needed to do individually to play their best golf. And for both of them, that was very different in terms of the amount of time they needed to spend and what parts of their game they needed to improve.
I learned a lot about how they evaluated themselves and how they approached their perspective on how to get better. I felt like I took some of that and pulled different things from the processes and how they worked on their game and tried to channel that at a more personal level and try to get a sense of what exactly was going to work for me.
CM: Coach Conrad Ray ’97 has put you in the lineup for both of the team’s tournaments this fall. How would you assess your play through the first few events?
PG: So far, so good. I am unfortunately not starting this next event [Nike Collegiate Golf Invitational], but prior to that, I had two events that seemed to get better as the competition went on. My first event was defined by mostly good play, but I struggled in the middle round, which kept me from finishing a little bit better. But it was a great experience to start the year off with a team win.
After that, we went to Chicago [Olympia Fields], and I was very pleased with how I played there. I think that was, without a doubt, the hardest set-up for a golf course I’ve ever seen in college golf, and arguably in any tournament golf round. I believe that was my highest finish when I started in the main lineup…I feel like I’m capable of more throughout the season and hopefully I can improve on that result.
CM: How confident are you in your ability to play yourself into the lineup consistently this year?
PG: I feel confident that I can hopefully play a more pivotal role on the team as the season goes on. With whatever lineup we have, if I build on my performance from my first two events, I feel like I’m a starting player on the team.
CM: This team is pretty young: Of the nine players, six are either freshmen or sophomores. What types of values have you tried to model to the younger guys thus far?
PG: I think patience might be one of the most important ones. A lot of people that don’t follow college golf don’t really notice, but we play an incredibly long season. We play a lot of events: We play in the fall and the spring. We’re always practicing, always competing. And with that comes a lot of ups and downs, obviously, just with the nature of the game. So I think patience is a really important one: Being in it for the long haul, as opposed to short-term gratification. For us, that means tougher workouts in the gym, more time practicing short game and having competitive practice.
CM: How would you describe Coach Ray’s style of coaching and leadership?
PG: He’s really evolved a lot in the time I’ve been here. I think partially because I’ve gotten to know him a lot better and we’ve become much closer just by virtue of my seniority. He’s become much more interactive with us; he’s got a lot of skills in terms of evaluating our games, and he fortunately gets to see us compete under pressure and see how our games hold up in tough situations. He brings a lot to the table in terms of observation.
He’s been a great resource and someone I’ve come to trust a lot with feedback for my game. He’s become an important part of my process of getting better.
CM: Which area of your game do you feel has improved the most from last season to the present?
PG: I’ve worked very hard on my golf swing and my ball-striking. Since I’ve been in college, that’s been one of the more inconsistent aspects of my game. So I’ve worked on my full swing to make that more consistent when I compete—particularly my driving. That’s definitely something that’s improved a lot, and when I’ve had good tournaments, that’s something I can point to as more consistent than weeks when I don’t play as well.
CM: Your conference and postseason events are still more than six months away. In light of that time gap, what is the team hoping to accomplish over these final few fall events?
PG: First and foremost, our goal is to take every event one at a time and do whatever we can to come in very prepared for the conditions and the golf course and then just go out and try to win every tournament. All of us believe in our group, our players and our coaching to the point where we feel like we can be competitive in any tournament. So our focus on each event is to do what we can to win—we’re all hungry to win.
CM: Although it’s impossible to replace players like Cameron or Patrick, how confident are you in this squad’s ability to defend its conference title and contend for a national championship in 2015?
PG: I’m very confident in our team…We got a lot of attention last year, primarily because of guys like Cameron and Patrick, and they played some incredible golf.
This year, I think it’s a team that’s going to be great, but for potentially different reasons. We’ve got a lot of guys who are experienced from really tough, pressure-packed competition for last year, and I think that’s going to bleed-in to this season. We’re going to have a group of guys who all want to work really hard to play like Patrick and Cameron. That’ll create five guys who are all incredibly consistent and tough to beat as a whole.
Men’s golf finished second at the Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational earlier this week, and will wrap-up its fall slate with the U.S. Collegiate Championship (October 17-19) and the Gifford Collegiate (November 3-5).
Contact Cameron Miller at cmiller6 ‘at’ stanford.edu.