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Men’s Golf: Irish move forward without senior trio

Cory Bernard | Friday, August 17, 2012

It is easy to say the upcoming season will be a rebuilding one for the Irish. They concluded last year with the program’s lowest 54-hole tournament mark on their way to a sixth-place finish at the 2012 NCAA Central Regional. Notre Dame also bid adieu to the talented senior trio of Max Scodro, Tom Usher and Chris Walker.

Irish coach Jim Kubinski, however, is confident in the depth of his squad.

“We have a number of guys who can do it,” Kubinski said. “There are seven, eight, nine guys who can step up. We have two freshmen and a transfer from [Arizona State], [sophomore] David Lowe, who will compete right away. And then obviously the guys we have. We happened to have three really good seniors, but we have some good players returning as well.”

Two of those returners, junior Niall Platt and senior Paul McNamara III, were regular contributors throughout the season. Kubinski said Platt and McNamara will have to step up as leaders this fall.

“I think that’s where there’s going to be a need,” he said. “It’s kind of a necessity for us, definitely that leadership role. On the course I don’t think it’s a huge thing but off the course being able to step up into that new role. I think [Paul and Niall] are excited for it, and that’s great.”

The new season also brings change to the Irish coaching staff. Notre Dame graduate Steve Colnitis will no longer be with the program. Former professional golfer Scott Gump will replace the former coach after his seven-year tenure.

Kubinski said Gump would be an invaluable part of the team this season.

“Scott Gump was on the PGA tour for almost 20 years,” Kubinski said. “He was a real solid tour player, and now the only college coach in the country that is a lifetime member of the PGA tour. There are some [coaches] out there that have played professionally but no coaches that were long-time players out there. He’s played a lot of golf. We are really, really excited to have Scott.”

The Irish will also look to repeat last year’s success in the classroom. On Aug. 1, the Golf Coaches Associate of America named Notre Dame to its 2012 All-Academic Team. Kubinski said the honor is indicative of the work ethic of his squad.

“You look at some of these schools and their goal is a 3.0 [cumulative GPA],” he said. “We had almost a 3.5 last year, and one of the major factors was the guys working extremely hard in every facet. It’s really caught on the last few years with the guys. They really get used to operating that way. Selfishly, it helps them with their golf game, but obviously it helps you with everything in life. The guys really bought into it to try their hardest in everything.”

The new-look Irish kick off the fall season with the Tar Heel Intercollegiate at Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Sept. 15.