Associate Athletic Director Kevin Blue ('05) is traveling with the men's golf team on their foreign tour to Scotland. Blue was an Academic All-American and men's golf team captain during his playing career at Stanford, and will be providing updates to GoStanford.com throughout the tour. Previous updates can be found here.
NORTH BERWICK, Scotland -Yesterday's victory over Stirling was followed today by two non-competitive rounds that allowed team members to spend the day playing alongside the donors who sponsored this trip. The players really enjoyed the opportunity to further get to know the folks who generously made this once-in-a-lifetime experience possible. It goes without saying that our guys appreciate the kindness of everyone who supports Stanford golf, but the chance to spend a day picking the brains of veteran businesspeople and learning "how the sausage gets made" in various domains of industry is especially valuable for them.
Today's morning round took place at North Berwick, a course that opened in 1832 and is still used today for qualifying when the Open Championship is played at nearby Muirfield (scheduled for 2013 when the Open returns to Muirfield). The North Berwick Golf Club is the 13th oldest golf club in the world and was the first club to grant memberships to female golfers. Similar to Prestwick, where the team played yesterday, North Berwick has some historical charm baked into its design. Appreciation for this course is analogous to how people often feel about classic cars - by no means would some of its features be recreated in modern times, but they are interesting and revered precisely because they are antiquated. For example, a four foot high stone wall randomly crosses the fairway in front of the green on two holes. It should be noted that none these quirks affected sophomore standout Patrick Rodgers today, who expertly went around North Berwick in sixty-five, six under par, without really breaking a sweat.
The afternoon round was played at nearby Gullane Golf Club where there are three courses. The team and donor guests played Gullane No. 1, which provided a much different test from what the players encountered in the morning. The course is built on both sides of a large hill, creating holes that play significantly shorter or longer than the card yardage depending on their direction. Traditional Scottish weather - i.e., cold wind and driving rain - came up in the afternoon which made the course play difficult, but perhaps served as a proper tune up for later in the trip, which is reputed to be the most difficult course in Scotland.
Freshman Francks is an "athlete who plays golf"
An earlier update included a short feature about freshman David Boote. Dominick Francks (Olympia, WA) is the other member of this year's freshman class.
Francks is the 2011 Washington Junior Golf Association player of the year, and a former state junior champion who finished third at the 2011 Callaway Junior World. He's an imposing athlete at six-foot-three and two hundred pounds who played varsity basketball in high school for three years, just like former Cardinal great and multiple PGA Tour winner Notah Begay ('94). Francks was so good on the hardwood, he was named MVP of his high school basketball conference in his senior year.
Dominick's swing instructor in Washington is Joe Thiel, who also teaches Andrew Yun (Yun is taking the fall quarter off to pursue PGA Tour qualifying). The Stanford coaching staff is very optimistic about Dominick's upside, particularly since he took to elite junior golf relatively late compared to most elite players. His current academic interests are biology and philosophy. Dominick celebrated his 19th birthday a few days ago during the trip.
Here are a few comments from Francks:
You have an exceptional background in both basketball and golf. Tell us about your basketball career.
Francks: "I played basketball since first grade and baseball from an even earlier age. I ended up starting for two years in high school and our team had some success by finishing fourth in the state during my junior year. Basketball is something that I really enjoyed during high school, and I think I can take some of the competitiveness that I learned in that environment and apply it to college golf."
How would you describe your style of play on the golf course?
Francks: "When playing my best I hit a lot of greens and make a lot of pars. I don't try to do be too aggressive. I think I'm effective at keeping the ball in play off the tee, and try to steer clear of unnecessarily risks".
What are you looking forward to most in your freshman year?
Francks: "I can't wait to get to school and getting the opportunity to use the Siebel center. It's the best practice facility that I've ever seen, and I'm really excited about getting to work on my game there. I'm also looking forward to the chance to learn from some of the great players we have in our program. Being a part of this team is a great feeling, and I'm looking forward to helping us to keep getting better. I've looked up to Andrew Yun and Patrick Rodgers, and the opportunity to learn from these guys is something that I'm excited about."
Stay tuned for more updates from Scotland. Tomorrow the Stanford players will pair up with the donors who are accompanying us on the trip to play a set of friendly best ball matches against team members and supporters of St. Andrew's University.