Some people might view golf as a one-person sport. That may be true in the pro’s, but not when it comes to the college level. With 10 names on the University of Utah golf roster, each one is competing for the other with hopes to make it to Stillwater, Oklahoma for a chance at the national championship.
Head coach Garrett Clegg and junior Kyler Dunkle know it won’t be an easy task to get to Stillwater, but they think if the team can work together as a cohesive unit and focus on communication, then it will result in winning tournaments throughout the season, and will give the team a chance to play for the ultimate prize.
When Dunkle was making his decision on where to transfer from Colorado State, Utah was on his list of prospects. After meeting with Clegg and seeing the knowledge he has for running a successful program, Dunkle chose to become a Ute. Since joining the program, he has seen his hard work payoff, and he is ready to accomplish more with his team.
As opportunities came about, Dunkle capitalized on them. As a sophomore, in three different events he finished among the top-20, and competed in all 13 events, carding nine rounds of par or better. Not only did he earn a 71st place finish at the Pac-12 Championships, where he had 233 strokes, but he also totaled 2,757 strokes in 38 total rounds for a 72.6 strokes-per-round average. Dunkle also set a person best, 4-under par (68) at the PING Cougar Classic.
Dunkle is looking forward to his junior season, and he is wanting to take on more of a leadership role as four incoming freshman joined the team. By stepping up as a leader, Dunkle is hoping that he and the other seasoned athletes on the team can show the younger Utes what playing at the collegiate level is all about. He wants to help teach them, help them avoid making the mistakes he once made and make sure it’s a positive growing experience for a successful year both individually and as a unit.
“I’m excited about the new year,” Dunkle said. “We have a lot of good talent, and it’s all about preaching the culture to be successful and go far.”
This year, Dunkle’s goals include making it to the postseason and being one of the top-65 teams for a chance to be able to play at the national championship. He also hopes to have a better outcome against the Pac-12 teams. For Utah as a whole, he said the goals are to continue proving that it belongs in the Pac-12, and that it can contend nationally.
One area he will specifically be focusing on to help get his team to where it wants to be, is his shooting. He believes if he improves that, he will be in a better stance to finish stronger and win tournaments, and Clegg is confident Dunkle will succeed.
“Kyler is a very driven and works exceptionally hard,” Clegg said. “He is pursuing something he is very passionate about. He loves the game of golf and loves to compete. Kyler is a great teammate, he’s like a big brother to some of the guys and has their backs. He helps everyone around him because he is a very selfless person and wants everyone to succeed.”
With a new season around the corner, Dunkle is ready to work together as a team to chase down its goals, while also helping the newcomers adjust. Clegg said his team is unified because of team-building activities, that teach his players how to work together as a unit and play off of each other well, and that is something that will play a role in the Utes’ upcoming season.
“If you have 10 guys that work hard for the same goal,” Clegg said. “It brings the team together.”