A lesson in maturity
Alabama's Strohmeyer shedded stubborness, won title
MILTON, Ga. -– Scott Strohmeyer was a stubborn son of a gun when he arrived at Alabama as a freshman in 2008. There is no other way to describe it.
In fact, that’s precisely how Strohmeyer would describe it himself.
“I redshirted my freshman year, and like any high-school kid I thought I knew everything,” Strohmeyer said. “It was my freshman year of eligibility, my sophomore year, and Coach [Jay Seawell] and I really butted heads -– mainly because of me. I needed to be woken up.
“I thought I knew everything. I thought I knew how to play golf. I was like, ‘Who’s this coach trying to tell me how to play golf?’"
Strohmeyer’s own mother assisted in getting him to wise up, which he credited with turning around his career on the Crimson Tide men’s golf team that captured the Division I Men’s Golf Championship Sunday on the Crabapple Course at the Capital City Club. Alabama won the title, its first, with a much more mature Strohmeyer as its team captain.
“Mom was upset in the way that I was being so stubborn. So I just humbled myself and let Coach coach me,” Strohmeyer said.
Even then, it was a process that took some time. After playing in all 31 rounds of 11 tournaments in 2009-10, his freshman year of eligibility, Strohmeyer was in the lineup for only five events and a total of 14 rounds in 2010-11. It wasn’t until last year, as a junior, that Seawell’s lessons and Strohmeyer’s hard work melted the last remnants of the player’s costly stubbornness away.
“It took about maybe a year to kind of listen to him, because I was really stubborn,” Strohmeyer said. “He’s really changed my game -– because I used to just hit driver on every hole. I thought that was how you play golf: hit it as far as you can and just go find it. That can work for some people, but golf courses are designed to be played a certain way -– and since I’ve done that, I’ve found a lot of success.”
It all culminated in the ultimate team success on Sunday. Interestingly, Seawell said the victory was all about his players –- while Strohmeyer, now the mature team captain, said it was all about honoring his coach.
The truth no doubt lies somewhere squarely in between.
“For Scott Strohmeyer, this was his last tournament,” Seawell said. “We’ve gone through five years of butting heads and working together, loving each other and crying with each other, and all of the things that you do as a coach and a player. This was for him and all of the guys. Scott really became a leader and we couldn’t have done this without his leadership.”
Strohmeyer, on the other hand, insisted it was at least mostly about the coach. Seawell had four previous top-10 finishes at the NCAA championships, but had never won a title.
“To see how hard he’s worked, I’m just extremely happy for him. We all see how hard he works at this, and it just has motivated us to work harder. It has nothing to do with me,” Strohmeyer said. “Seeing him get to celebrate this just makes it all worth it. To see all his hard work finally pay off makes it all worth it.”
Strohmeyer teammate Justin Thomas said his buddy obviously learned to match the coach in the hard-work department.
“He’s awesome,” Thomas said of Strohmeyer. “He’s my roommate this year. He’s the hardest worker on our team. He’s always out there grinding and always working on his short game. He just doesn’t like losing, and he doesn’t like having any weakness in his game. It’s been nice rooming with him, because there are times where I’ve learned stuff from him just from how hard he works.
“For him to be our captain and for this to be his last tournament, well, it’s nice to get this win for the team but also mostly for him. It’s just so cool.”
Needless to say -- although Strohmeyer, his coach and Thomas were all willing to say it –- the team captain winding up his collegiate career came a long way to arrive at Sunday’s celebration.
“We’ve had a nice labor of love in a good way,” Seawell said. “As coaches, we know what makes great players is that they have a will about them. We’re not trying to break it, we’re just trying to mold it a little bit. It takes a while. It takes trust that I have his best interests in mind.
“And now I would run through a wall for him, and I think he would run through a wall for me. Which is what you want the culmination of it to be. … Now I’m no longer his coach; I’m his friend – which makes [Sunday] pretty sad in a way.”
That wasn’t very evident Sunday. There seemed to be smiles all around everyone associated with the Alabama golf team.