Every team needs a veteran leader.
For the UC Davis men’s golf team, that man has been lone senior Brent Booth.
Despite a rough start to this season, Booth has remained a solid role model for his teammates both on and off the field. From his beginnings as a walk-on to his record-breaking performance at Notre Dame in 2008, Booth has shown that a good attitude and strong work ethic will pay off.
As his career winds down, Booth talked with Aggie sports writer Trevor Cramer about his role as a leader, the upcoming Big West Conference Tournament and the high points of his college career.
What is it like to be the only senior on the team this season?
I’ve really enjoyed it. I remember being younger and looking up to all the seniors. I couldn’t wait to be the one everyone looked up to. Now you could say that Austin Graham and I are the role models for the team. It’s really cool.
How is this year’s team different from last year’s one, which had a lot more experience?
We’re every bit as talented, but losing Nate [Pistacchio] and Ramie [Sprinkling] who each had three years of experience makes a big difference. Our guys have had flashes of greatness. I could see them being better in the future.
What have you done to help out some of the younger golfers this year?
It’s mostly about the way I carry myself on and off the course. I was a walk-on so it shows people that you can work your way up. I work hard in the weight room and I try to conduct myself well off the course. I tell them to go to class and make sure they take care of their school work.
Do you spend time with your teammates outside of golf or is it strictly a working relationship?
We hang out all the time. Tyler [Raber], Austin [Graham] and I live together and Andrew [Haggan] and Tim [Honeycutt] live together so our starting-five all live within two homes. We hang out, watch TV, barbecue and more. We have a bond that the team didn’t have as much last year for some reason. It’s really special.
You recently made some adjustments to your swing. What prompted the change and how has it affected your game?
I got into some bad habits on my back swing. I went and saw my coach and we worked for a few hours and we saw immediate results. I was fortunate to work out the kinks.
You had a few rough tournaments early this spring. How did you keep your confidence up and turn things around?
I tried not to get too down. I model my attitude after one of my idols, Fred Couples. I do my best not to get too worked up. It’s helped me a lot the last few months.
Golf is a game that is highly mental. After a bad round, how do you get things back on track?
You have to treat each round like it’s its own tournament. The beauty of college golf is that if you have a really bad score it usually won’t count towards the team score, so you can improve the next round and help the team. It’s like you get a fresh start. You can’t let demons of the past keep eating at you. It’s all about having the right, positive mental approach.
Do you look at golf as more of a team sport or an individual sport?
It’s 100 percent a team sport, which sounds weird because you’re competing by yourself. But in college golf you know you always have your teammates counting on you. You can have one good player, but if you don’t have four more, you won’t get very far. At Pacific earlier this season, Tyler Raber won the tournament, but he was more excited about our first-place team finish.
What is the attitude of the team heading into the Big West Championships, probably your biggest tournament of the year?
It’s not much different from any other tournament. [Coach] Cy Williams has been looking at this the whole season, but we don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves. It’ll be the first time for our young guys at the Big West, but everybody’s ready to go. We know we can win and we expect to perform.
What will it take for you guys to bring home a Big West title?
Well it’s a course where even par is a very good score. We’ve been working on our strategy all week, and we need to stay 100 percent committed to the strategy.
What has your career highlight been so far?
Winning the conference tournament [as a team] last year was really special. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Besides that I would say it was shooting a school-record 64 at Notre Dame last season after being a walk-on. I was smiling for weeks after that.
I hate to ask, but how did it feel to see that record broken just six days later by your teammate Austin Graham?
[Laughs] I broke a record that stood for 22 years and I only held it for six days. There were no hard feelings, though. Austin is a friend and I was really happy for him. It also helped our team reach a ranking of No. 13, the highest we’ve ever been. If he hadn’t shot that, we wouldn’t have gotten there. It helped the team so I was happy.
How does it feel as your career begins to wind down?
I try not to think about it and I hope I still have a couple tournaments left. It’s sad my career is almost over. I’ve had such a great time and I have nothing but positive memories. I dreamed of playing college golf in high school and I’ve gone beyond what I ever could’ve expected.
TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.