May 18, 2010

By Mike Beas
Special to NCAA.com

Noblesville, Ind. - Long before Tuesday's 7:30 a.m. first tee time, members of the Central Missouri men's golf program were able to enjoy something of a head start in the memory-making department.

Two days prior to the start of the NCAA Division II Men's Golf Championships, longtime Mules coach Tim Poe, a diehard auto racing devotee, traveled from this suburb just northeast of Indianapolis to the city's Westside to treat himself and his players to a day of pars and cars.

Poe's official introduction to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway made a wide-eyed child out of the 48-year-old. Better yet, Central Missouri's players were able to play a practice round at the Pete Dye-designed Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, located inside the celebrated two-and-a-half-mile oval.

"When you come to a tournament like this, you want to come away with something special. Indy is a great town and the people are so nice and so hospitable. Then with the history of the Indianapolis 500 and to see that beautiful golf course, it's just great," said Poe, now in his 21st season as the UCM coach. "Racing is a hobby for my son and I, so to be able both is just phenomenal."

Blending Poe's two passions did prove an interesting combination. Central Missouri's players, accustomed to shot-making in silence with the exception of what sounds nature is offering up, couldn't escape the piercing buzz of race cars practicing for this month's Indianapolis 500.

Poe didn't have such concerns. Having left his clubs at home, the coach's role was to observe, instruct and encourage. Oh, and to listen. Not only to his players, but to the cars whizzing past at insanely high speeds.

"I think it was a real treat for them to see that facility with all of its history," said Poe. "It's something they'll always remember."

And if Central Missouri, which posted a team score of 311 for seventh place entering Wednesday's second round, can close the deal later this week with the program's first national championship, perhaps Poe and the Mules can incorporate a checkered flag into the celebratory photographs.

It would, after all, only be fitting.