‘Think your way around the course’: Rod Compton new hire for Moffat County boys golf
August 4, 2017
Rod Compton was recently hired as the new head coach for Moffat County High School boys golf.
Compton, who competed in both football and golf while at Baylor University, has lived in Craig since 2000 and also serves as a pastor for New Life Fellowship. He has also worked regularly this summer with John Doane providing junior golf lessons at Yampa Valley Golf Course.
The MCHS team begins its practices Monday, a week ahead of other fall sports, with tournaments at Gypsum Creek Aug. 14, EagleVail Aug. 15 and a home event Aug. 23 before the school year starts.
The Craig Press caught up with Compton at YVGC about his plans for Bulldog golf.
Congratulations on the new position. What interested you in the job, and what kind of experience do you bring?
I grew up playing golf, my dad was a club pro, and I started playing regularly when I was about 10 years old in West Texas. Started playing high school golf and played college golf at Baylor, all my life. I've played a lot of amateur events through the years, and I've been around coaching a lot too, since I played high school and college football, so not only did I have great coaches at Baylor, but I got the opportunity to help out at as an assistant at Mansfield High School outside of Burleson, Texas, for football. I've just had a lot of sports-related activities and being involved.
What do you bring personally to a coaching role?
I enjoy being around young people, inspiring them, encouraging them, motivating them, pushing them to do better, be the best they can be. I'm not one of these coaches that screams or hollers at people. I never was motivated by that, and I don't feel like that's the best way to motivate. What I try to do is paint a picture of what they could experience if they're willing to put the work into it. Not every guy that plays golf in high school will be on the tour someday, but the fact is there's a lot of enjoyment in the game, and if you improve, you'll be satisfied with how you're doing. From what I've seen of these kids that I know will be playing, they all have potential to do better and represent Moffat County in a good way.
What kind of lessons do you feel the game of golf has to offer young players?
The best thing that I like about golf is the integrity of the game itself. As a golfer, you are expected to always tell the truth, write the right score down, and there's great moral character built in that. There's golfers out there who don't always do the right thing. It really is the honor system, and it teaches them that you can be proud of the fact you've done the right thing the right way, and even if your score's not as good as you wanted it to be, you can still feel, "this is what I've accomplished," and now you have a target to better yourself next time.
What are the most crucial skills to learn at this stage?
One of the things is to recognize if you have a bad habit. Golf, more than a lot of other sports, is all about physics. It's about getting a little piece of metal in the right position in just the right time to hit a ball straight, and that's not easy, that's why most people don't do that well at golf. But, the more you focus on the ability to get the club back to that square… I don't really care what their swing looks like at the top or what it looks like after if they're posing, all I care about is what's it going to do right when it hits because that's the important thing. For a lot of these kids, I just want them to experience what it feels like to hit a pure shot, hit one flush and then for their eyes to light up and say, "Whoa, I didn't even swing that hard." Exactly. The club is just made to be swung and all these other variables come in of not hitting it square, hitting it fat or thin or whatever else, and they're going to be frustrated. Let's get a nice, smooth swing that you feel comfortable with, getting the club head square, and you're going to be amazed with how well you start hitting the ball. The other part is just talking through the whole thought process of how you'll play every hole. It's not letting the course play you, it's you playing the course. I don't want to jump up on every hole, pull out a driver and hit it as far as I can because that's not the best thing. The best thing is putting the ball in target zone A, in the best place it could be and then thinking about your next shot depending on where the pin is.
What are some common mistakes?
One of the things my dad taught me was thinking your way around the golf course. So many kids have an adrenaline rush, "I want to hit the ball as hard as I can," and if someone outdrove them then they want to outdrive them, and it's that macho testosterone thing everybody gets into. You can do that, but that's not golf. It's not good golf. It's about thinking your way around the course. I wasn't really taught that in high school, I played fairly good golf just because my dad had been around me and told me these kinds of things. My golf coach was really just one of my football coaches who came out there with us to make sure we didn't tear stuff up. Then when I got to Baylor, I had a real golf coach, and he emphasized more of what my dad had told me. The guys that play really good golf are the ones willing to think their way around the course. My idol growing up was Jack Nicklaus, and he's the epitome of that. He could hit the ball a mile, sure, but the fact is he would often not take the driver out because he knew that if he put the ball in the right position, then he'd have a great shot into the hole. That's what I want to teach these guys.
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What is your familiarity with some of the courses the team will be playing, such as Gypsum Creek, EagleVail, Tiara Rado, Lakota Canyon?
I have not played any of those. (Laughs) It'll be kind of interesting for me. I'll get online, get a map of their course, and even though I haven't played there personally, I'll at least be able to get a strategy for these guys on how we can play it as a team.
What is one of the things you want to emphasize most this season for athletes?
What I want them to understand is, yeah, there'll be some guys who score better than others, but I want our whole team to be bonded so that everybody's encouraging each other, not dissing on each other. We want everyone on the team to help benefit the team. What would be cool is if as a team we could win something. I'd love to win a tournament, not just have one sharpshooter guy, but have a team that are actually all together, working together, encouraging each other, playing within themselves, not putting pressure on each other. Golf, you can put so much pressure on yourself, and that never helps because then you start swinging hard or fast, lose your tempo, and it never helps your score, it always hurts it. I've been through all that. Thinking your way around is all about, "How can I improve myself, and how can I improve this team?"