WEST LAFAYETTE – The best move in Dave Schneider’s storied career as Harrison’s golf coach?
Cole Bradley as a newbie didn’t cut it.
“My smartest move of all time,” says Schneider with a laugh.
It’s the same Cole Bradley who won the IHSAA State Championship for the Raiders for the second year in 2015, a year after trying out for the team. It’s the same Cole Bradley who won the NCAA Regional at Sagamore Golf Club in Noblesville last week after finishing 17th after the first round.
And it’s the same Cole Bradley who will compete in the NCAA championships starting Friday at Grayhawk Golf Club in North Scottsdale, Arizona. The Purdue Senior is one of six individual qualifiers and a total of 156 golfers competing for medalists.
Granted, Schneider didn’t want to remove Bradley from his program, but the key point – the newcomer at the time had a long way to go in developing into the golfer he is today. And credit goes to Bradley, who plans to return to the program for a fifth season next year.
Before Rob Bradley became Purdue’s men’s golf coach in 2013, he was an assistant in Alabama and Northern Florida. The warm weather enabled his son to play tennis outside against solid competition with numerous courts. Golf wasn’t on the radar until the family moved to Indiana.
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After Bradley was appointed trainer for the Boilermakers, Schneider reached out to him at the annual state clinic thinking Cole would fit his program.
“I saw Cole’s picture in the tennis newspaper,” Schneider recalled. “I went over to introduce myself and said, ‘Does he play golf?’ Rob said, ‘Yeah, he’s played a bit, but tennis is his business and he hasn’t shown much interest.’ ”
With limited indoor tennis facilities in the area, Cole’s interests began to change and he spent his free time at the Spurgeon Golf Training Center in the Boilermaker Golf Complex. The more he was on his father’s team, the more attracted he was to the sport.
“Just the facilities here in Purdue, they were so nice that I came out and started practicing and loved it,” said Cole. “I never returned.”
The elder Bradly believes his son’s golf career was “almost out of boredom” with no tennis courts available in the area during the winter. At Purdue, Cole could practice golf from sunrise to sunset in the indoor facility. That’s exactly what happened.
But his 24/7 training and gaming habits didn’t immediately pay off. In his first invitational game, Cole shot 102, about 30 strokes over par. By the end of his freshman season, his average was 20 shots lower and a career was in full swing.
A year later, Cole won the medalists at the IHSAA State Championship.
“He just worked and worked and worked on it, but he also has a certain talent,” said Schneider. “He’s a strong kid, that helped a lot, but he worked on it over and over again. He stayed after training, worked alone on the weekends and all that good stuff. His work ethic is incredible. “
The work ethic can be traced back to a competitive foundation established in the family.
Rob was a pre-eminent North Carolina golfer when current Purdue women’s coach Devon Brouse ran the men’s program. Rob’s wife Chasity is currently “obsessed with pickleball” and recently returned from a tournament in Atlanta. Cole’s sister Wesley plays tennis and golf at Harrison.
“Whether it’s indoor ping pong or whatever it is, you have no choice but to be competitive,” said Rob.
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And then there were the father-son golf matches, which were initially dominated by Rob, but Cole began to win his share of the fights on the course. There was always a discussion about when Cole would defeat his father and what the moment would feel like.
“It was out here in Kampen,” said Cole. “I had a 67. He was in my lower 70’s or something like that.”
Rob said, “A lot more is happening now than I would like.”
The bond between the two is even stronger and Rob was there every step of the way. He served as Cole’s caddy during the Regional League and will be back at the NCAA championships for insight and support.
“It was a bit more nerve-wracking as a father,” said Rob of the Regional. “But I think he helped me by looking so focused and so calm that I wasn’t really scared. I tried to stick to the same plan and take care of one shot at a time and help him where I could. “
Cole has had a solid career for the Boilermakers and his father, but winning the regional title was his first college-level single title. There have been a number of solid games throughout his career, but the regional title should serve as a breakthrough title, especially considering that Cole played the last seven holes 5 under par to win with two strokes.
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In fact, his finish was similar to when Cole won his second First Coast amateur in January 2020 playing the final 11 holes in 5 under. The focus Cole had during the Regionalliga – and the First Coast Amateur – should serve him well in the challenge for an NCAA title.
“On First Coast Am, I finished with a birdie at 18 and I didn’t even know what I’d shot at the second nine,” said Cole. “I played shot for shot and signed my card, I shot a 31 or 32, but that helped me a lot with the Regionals. On the second nine, I hit shot after shot, not knowing that I needed a birdie on the last two holes to win.
“I’ve played my best golf when I wasn’t worried about my score and everyone else’s score. Just concentrate on the next stroke and then I’ll play my best. “
Mike Carmin reports on Purdue Sports for the Journal & Courier. Send an email to email@example.com and follow @carmin_jc on Twitter
NCAA MEN’S GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS
Grayhawk Golf Club, North Scottsdale, Arizona.
TV: Golf Channel (Monday 2-6 p.m. individual winners)
Format: Three days of stroke play (54 holes), after which the top 15 teams and nine individuals who are not in an ascending team play a final day of 18 holes on Monday to determine the 72-hole individual champion.
Individuals: Cole Bradley (Purdue); Ryan Hall (South Carolina); Tristan Mandur (Utah); AJ Ott (State of Colorado); James Piot (State of Michigan); Michael Sakane (Jacksonville).