The golf team at Oklahoma Christian enjoys many privileges while playing golf, but the individual players earn these privileges through hard practice. Each player holds the responsibility of attending mandatory practices as well as ensuring they practice on their own.
"The schedule is pretty dependent on the individual and what their class schedule is like." junior Glen McCawley said. "Our coach gives us quite a bit of independence as far as our practice routines go. Really the only mandatory thing we do is qualify and have team workouts."
Sophomore Richard Graham said the team works out three nights a week and one morning a week together.
"Then we have practice five days a week after classes as long as the weather permits," Graham said.
Since golf leans mainly toward being an individual sport, the players decide their own schedules and they appear to enjoy this liberty as well as enjoying practices.
"We don't have a practice time like other teams," Buccolo said. "I think this is what makes golf better than any other sport. We just go out there to the course, and everyone works on what they feel they need to work on the most. Some are chipping some are putting, others hitting balls and others just go out and play."
For some of the players, they're simply doing what they love to do and don't view practicing as work.
"Most of the guys enjoy practicing," Graham said. "I don't see it as a chore. I like being able to practice as much as we can."
Players practice at different courses, but the majority of practices occur at River Oaks Golf club which serves as their home course.
"We get to be treated as a member of the club when we aren't, and we get to have our own practice facility," junior Fernando Gonzales said. "We are the only ones allowed to practice there and there is some prestige that comes with that."
At River Oaks, the team even has their own driving range designed specifically for the Oklahoma Christian.
The members and professionals at River Oaks also provide the Eagles with a lot of support. In addition to River Oaks, Coach David Lynn also makes sure the players get the chance to play at other courses as well.
"We play at a few different courses. They are all really good to us and give us everything we need," Graham said. "I know a lot of teams at Oklahoma Christian struggle for facilities sometimes, but our coach has managed to get us on some great facilities."
Players agree the best thing about playing golf for Oklahoma Christian is the other players and the coach.
"Being surrounded by golfers of such a high standard has improved my game a lot," Graham said. "Everyone encourages each other and learns from each other. It's a good mix."
The trips the golfers take for different tournaments also ranks high on the golfer's list of benefits.
"We get to go to really cool places and beautiful cities around the United States," Gonzales said.
Hawaii seems to be the favorite spot for most of the players.
"The golf course we played on was outstanding, right on the beach and the views were unreal," Graham said. "We also won the tournament which was good."
These trips bring opportunities to the players that they may have never had if they didn't play golf for Oklahoma Christian.
"It has been my dream since I was a kid to go to Hawaii, and I finally went last year and even better, I am going back this spring break," Buccolo said.
Other favorite places are New York, Seattle, Canada and Arizona.
The players think people might be surprised to know even though golf mainly is played as an individual sport when you play for a college it is different.
"You have to support each other all the time because every single player counts and every single shot counts," Gonzales said. "If one of us is not playing well, it creates a lack of confidence in the whole team and can affect our results."
The players would also like for everyone to be aware of the high quality of the players and golf program that Oklahoma Christian maintains.
"We can compete against top 50 division I schools, and we have players inside the top 50 all division national rankings pretty much every year for the last 5 years. This is a big deal," Buccolo said. "The golf program is definitely one of the best in the nation at the NAIA level."
Some players even use the golf team's exposure to take their game to the next level.
"Most people at Oklahoma Christian involved in sports are simply doing it in college and have no aspirations of doing anything with it after college," Graham said. "Half the guys on the golf team are using their college experience as a spring board into the professional circuit."
The No. 1 ranked Eagle's next tournament will be in Hawaii on March 13 in the Kauai Collegiate Cup.