Underfunded Bearcats struggle to make the cut

DADE CITY, Fla – Money doesn’t solve all problems but it sure would help the Cincinnati Bearcats men’s golf program.

At it’s current state, the university simply can’t compete with the nation’s top golf programs due to a lack of funding and their five-month golf season.

The University of Cincinnati only provides the men’s golf program with the monetary equivalent of one full scholarship annually to be divided between the players however coach Doug Martin chooses.

This underfunding cripples the program’s ability to sign recruits capable of making the Bearcats a winning team.

“It’s really difficult to compete with southern schools that are able to give out five full-ride scholarships when we only have one to divvy up,” said Martin, who was the top-ranked amateur golfer in the United States in 1989.

Using the three-day University of South Florida Invitational tournament on Tuesday as an example, the Bearcats top two finishers were freshmen Michael Wolf and Jared Howard, who finished in 68th and 74th overall, respectively. Making matters worse, junior Matthew Ledom finished dead last in the tournament with a dismal 66-over par – 33 strokes behind the second-last golfer, Marquette’s Adam Chester.

“I’m really proud of our young guys who have come in and contributed right away, despite having to play against some very tough opponents,” said Martin.

Playing in Ohio is another factor that works against the Bearcats, as they have approximately a five-month season to train outdoors and are forced to play indoors the rest of the year.

“We make do,” said Martin. “Those schools obviously have a leg up being able to play year round. We just have to take advantage of our time on [the] course.”

While most schools are able to recruit players across the U.S., the Bearcats are limited to mainly local prospects.

“Most of our guys are from Ohio, it’s players who want to stay close to home who tend to come and play for us,” said Martin, standing in the sun at Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club.

Asked if he could envision a time when the Bearcats could challenge as one of the country’s top golf programs, Martin said his program needs more money in order to compete with the likes of Oklahoma State and UCLA.

“Hopefully within the next few years [we’ll improve],” he said. “Realistically though, we would probably require an increase in funding from the university. Without that funding it is difficult to convince players to play a shortened season in Ohio.”

However, Martin is impressed with his young team and their ability to develop as they are comprised mostly of sophomores and juniors.

“Our players are so hardworking and dedicated to improving,” said Martin. “We are going to get a lot better in the next few years with this new infusion of talent.”