Since becoming the Penn State men’s golf coach in 1992, Greg Nye has led his team to the NCAA tournament four times, but it’s the academic success of his players for which he takes special pride.
Last spring, the men’s golf team had a 3.6 GPA, which earned it the Milt Morgan Jr. Highest GPA Award for being the best among Penn State teams.
“In our recruiting, we prioritize academics No. 1, and we were looking for very good students in combination with their ability to get it done at this level from an athletic standpoint,” Nye said.
“You’re not coaching just for the grade. We’re not doing that. We’re not trying to win prizes necessarily,” he said. “You’ve got to be in academics for other reasons than just the grades … It’s all about your passion for learning.”
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The passion earned eight of his 10 players Academic All-Big Ten honors. The team also ranked in the top 10 academically among men’s golf teams nationally.
A challenge for this year’s team is that many of them are young. Four freshmen and two sophomores need to be relied upon to make big plays on the course.
“We definitely were a team at the end of last year — and that was a team that had been together for a couple years straight without many changing parts,” Nye said. “Half the team is brand new this year, so that’s goal No. 1. We have to form a team.”
The team got off to a good start, finishing third in the Rod Myers Invitational in Durham, N.C. Freshman Charles Huntzinger placed 10th, the best for any freshman in the Sept. 12-13 tournament.
At the Primland Collegiate Invitational in Meadows of Dan, Va., from Sept. 28-29, the team finished fourth out of nine. Huntzinger tied for fourth overall, leading the team.
Their best result, however, came last weekend with the team title at the 15-team Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate in Jonesborough, Tenn. Chris Houston tied for second and JD Dornes tied for fourth to lead four Nittany Lions in the top 12.
“The culture of our team over the last three or four years has been outstanding,” Nye said. “They’re going on and getting jobs right out of school, and we really emerged last year with great athletic performances as well.”