Category Archives: Bronco Men’s Golf
NMMI Sports Press
The college golf season is still a few months away, but the Bronco golfers can enjoy their winter break knowing they’ve got a solid squad headed into the spring season.
The final fall rankings show NMMI sitting at No. 13 (Golfstat) as a team with three individuals in the top 100: freshman Ricky Silva at 23; sophomore and team captain Paul Montoya 64th; and freshman Caleb Morton 84th.
“We had a nice fall,” said coach Andy Robertson. “Things really went well and we’re looking forward to the spring.”
The Broncos played in three tournaments (the fourth was rained out) with some really exciting moments at the WJCAC Tournament in mid October.
“When we were in Denver City, I walked out on the patio between 18s, and I looked up and NMMI was beating Midland and New Mexico Junior College,” Robertson said. “I almost had a heart attack. I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness!’ Then the second 18 they caught up to us and we took third. But still, Ricky Silva was the medalist in that tournament with 67-68.”
“Last tournament we actually got really close to beating Midland and NMJC, so that’s pretty cool,” Silva agreed.
“We did good enough to almost beat two of the top schools, Midland and NMJC, who we’ve been in competition for a long time,” Montoya said. “They just ended up beating us, but we were close. That was a good feeling.”
Silva comes to NMMI from Socorro High School, where he golfed for the Warriors, finishing in the top five at the state A-AAAA meet three times and top 15th two other times. While he said the ranking “feels good,” his goal is to continue to get better, getting his scoring average (72.5) to par or lower.
Montoya, who was ranked in 2016, has similar goals.
“Where I am now is not bad for a start. I can only hope to progress,” he said. As for the team, “The goals for the team is to just keep getting better and try to beat those top schools and get ourselves to nationals. That’s all we hope for. Myself, I want to get my ranking even higher and my scoring average (74.8) even better and help my team get to my goal.”
Morton is another freshman, who came to NMMI from just down the road in Artesia, where he was a three-time all-state player in AAAAA.
“It’s a change,” he said of the transition from high school to juco golf. “I know the golf courses around here real well. The structure here at NMMI is a little different. College golf is a lot different; a lot more competition. You can’t just go out and hack it around and be in the top 10.”
He said he was surprised to even be ranked — he only played in two tourneys — but also wants to move up in the rankings.
“I played good enough,” he said. “It’s somewhere I want to be. We all hope to improve in the spring and just keep working hard.”
The Western Junior College Athletic Conference may be the toughest JC conference around, with Odessa ranked No. 2; Midland 3; NMJC 7; and Western Texas 9. Last season, the Broncos had a tough time beating any of those teams, but Robertson thinks this year will be different.
“We’re beating people from the good schools, so it shows,” he said.
Most of the Bronco spring sports prepare for their seasons with tournaments in the fall, and the NMMI golf team is starting out against some of the top teams in the nation.
At the High Country Shootout at the Links at Sierra Blanca in Ruidoso Sept. 24-25, the Broncos will face off against five Top-10 teams, another five in the top 20 and one at 22.
While NMMI is ranked at 24 in the NJCAA pre-season poll, new head coach Andy Robertson is firing his team up.
“You want to climb in the rankings and be noticed?” he posted on the wall of the clubhouse. “No better time or place.”
Teams competing in the fall tourney include No. 1 Midland; McClendon (2); Odessa (5); West Texas (6); Pima (8); Dodge City (11); Eastern Arizona (12); New Mexico JC (17); Garden City (18); Spartanburg Methodist (20); Ranger (22); and unranked Mesa and UTEP, a DI school.
“We’re stepping into the fire with both feet, and we’re doing that right away,” Robertson said. “We’re probably going to see these teams again in October at the National Preview Tournament. So we’ll know as soon as we come back from Ruidoso where we stand and what we’ve got to get done to compete.”
That National Preview tourney is two weeks later in Garden City, Kans., then the Broncos will compete at the Conference Tournament in Denver City, Texas, Oct. 19, and close out the fall season in Odessa Nov. 4.
NMMI has five returning sophomores on the squad, as well as four new freshmen, so Robertson has good reason to feel confident in his team.
NMMI Sports Press
When Bronco golf coach Skip Gooch retired last spring, it was a big loss for the Institute. He had built the struggling program to one that saw all five 2016 freshmen return for the 2017 season. But the golfers won’t be losing a beat under the watchful eye of Andy Robertson, who’s not only seen his children become top golfers, but has been with NMMI for almost 20 years, coaching just about every sport there is.
“I’ve had girls’ basketball, men’s soccer, wrestling – everything that you can name that we’ve had here at the Institute I’ve been involved in,” he said.
Including football, which was his main sport and what brought him to New Mexico Military Institute.
He came to NMMI when former athletic director Lefty Steckelin was the Bronco head football coach.
“I was the offensive coordinator,” Robertson said. “They had run the wishbone the previous year. Lefty wanted to go to a split-back veer, and that’s exactly what I was doing at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. Later on, I became the defensive coordinator, as the staff was not all that big and you put people where you have to have them.”
That variety kept Robertson in Roswell, where he and his wife, Becky, raised two children.
Becky was the head golf coach at Goddard High School for 16 years, winning 14 state championships and coaching both daughter JoJo and LPGA star Gerina Piller, who is competing in the Rio Olympics.
Son Greg attended NMMI where he played golf for four years before being recruited by Oklahoma State, which was the No. 1 men’s golf team in the country at that time.
“Greg’s sophomore year they beat Tiger Woods and Stanford to win the (NCAA) National Championships,” his proud father said.
After high school, JoJo was a two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Champion, one of only four women to ever do that. She played on the Curtis Cup team for the United States vs. the Europeans, which the U.S. won, and played in two U.S. Opens, where her brother caddied for her.
So golf is in Robertson’s blood, and while he was retired and simply playing the game, he jumped at the chance to get back into action.
“My mind was going to mush and I wanted to make sure I got back in and active again,” he said. “I play golf every day with my buddies here at NMMI, but as soon as the season starts, that’s out the window: my job is to coach. My eventual job is to make sure that, if these guys are worthy and their scores are worthy, then they go somewhere else and get their education paid for and take the burden off of their parents.”
And, as a former football coach, he has thoughts about the program one might not hear from a golf coach, saying he’ll bring “toughness” to the team.
“The old saying is ‘You are what you do, not what you say you can do.’” he said. “In golf it’s very easy to look at the scoreboard. If you shot an 83, there’s no explanations to be had – you are that score. And so, if you want it lower, you work harder. Maybe you had a tough day and things didn’t go right, but so what? The guy that shot 66, he doesn’t care.”
“I also think that the time that we spend together as a team will be very worthwhile, the discipline that we’ll have and the attention to detail.”
And he’s happy with the place the program is in.
“Coach Gooch did a fine job, the program is in good shape. We’ve got nine players, five that are coming back, and we hope that through hard work from an old football coach, that we can be competitive.”
NMMI Sports Press
Two of last season’s top local high school golfers have decided to play next year for the New Mexico Military Institute Bronco men’s golf team: Caleb Morton from Artesia High School, and Goddard High’s Deric Loving.
Both players qualified and competed at the 2016 NMAA State Championships for Class 5A, where Morton placed 4th and Loving finished tied for 19th.
“I knew about these kids from reading about them in the newspaper, and from talking to their coaches, whom I know well,” said new Bronco head coach Andy Robertson. “They are the best in the local area, and we want local kids – I think it’s beneficial to the Institute.”
Both Morton and Loving gave credit to their fathers for helping them pick up and learn the game of golf, and also their high school coaches for further honing their skills.
“My dad, Richard, taught me to play and I played every day, every summer, when I was younger,” said Morton. “It became a habit, and coach Kirkwood’s been helping, too, for six or seven years now”.
“My dad got me into golf and I also joined the First Tee program when I was younger, when Tom Bell was the coach,” said Loving, adding that Goddard coach Billy Carlyle has also helped improve his game.
When asked what their favorite part of the game was, both were quick to reply “The driver.” But while hitting John Daly-like shots off the tee is definitely fun, both players recognized the importance of the short game, and thought of this as being one the best parts of their game.
“It depends on the day,” said Morton. “Sometimes it’s the short game, sometimes it’s the tee shots.”
Loving responded with but one sure word for the best part of his game: “Wedges”.
Coach Robertson knows his two incoming freshmen will need the long game, the short game, and everything in-between to compete in the always-tough Western Junior College Athletic Conference.
“This is the best junior college golf conference in the nation. Probably five out of nine years, the national champion comes out of this conference,” said the coach. “If you can play in this conference, you’re going to make my job easier, which is to get you on to the next college program, to get your education paid for.”
Caleb and Deric seem to have a good grasp of how just tough next season’s competition will be and are looking forward to the new challenges, both in the classroom and on the course.
“Going to NMMI sets a good foundation for the future,” replied Morton. “I hope to get better every day, work harder, stay at it and never settle.”
Loving agreed that NMMI was a “great start”. “Play in these bigger tournaments against players with lots of talent helps prepare us for better competition.”
With the signing of Morton and Loving, the Bronco men’s golf roster sits currently at seven members, with two more possible additions.
“Having these kids, along with the five that are coming back, along with a couple more – one from Socorro and one from Korea – is going to make our team very competitive,” said coach Robertson. With nine players on the team, it’s going to take hard work to make that starting five and get to go on the trips for the tournaments.”
NMMI Sports Press
Skip Gooch may still be in the public eye the next few years, but it won’t be as the Bronco golf coach.
Gooch, who’s running for a seat on the Chaves County Commission, tendered his resignation from the athletic position, citing “a lot of smaller factors.” But whatever the reasons, “The decision to leave was probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my entire life,” he said.
In five years, Gooch took the NMMI JC golf team from nothing to a team that can certainly stand on its own. When he agreed to take over the program in fall 2011 — promising then AD Reggie Franklin three to five years — there wasn’t much to work with.
“My biggest accomplishment, I think, was, when I took over the program it was DOA. It was gone,” he said. He came in with two golfers at the school and one recruit headed in. And with NJCAA rules requiring at least four golfers playing and five on the roster, Gooch had to think fast.
He found two Bronco football players to round out the team, salvaging not only the season but the program.
“We kept the program going, and I say we, because it wasn’t just me,” he said. “The players stepped up. They all came through.”
In the years since that inauspicious start, Gooch has built the program into something that has a bright future.
“That’s one thing I’d like to have as my legacy,” he said. “Most golfers around here know coach Gooch was here. Did we accomplish great things on the golf course? So so. But our competitors knew we were there. We didn’t destroy anybody by any means, but we competed. We never quit. We never gave up.”
And he’s leaving whoever will replace him with a solid core of golfers. The five freshmen he brought in for the 2016 season will all be back in 2017.
“Whoever takes the program won’t have to worry about three golfers and two football players,” he laughed. “We brought the program back to a viable, competitive program in our conference.”
NMMI athletic director Jose Barron — who Gooch credits with helping him through the early years — had nothing but praise for the outgoing coach.
“I think that Skip did a really good job for us, trying to elevate the program,” he said. “Trying to bring this program a little bit more to the forefront. I think we owe him a debt of gratitude. He’s done a good job recruiting and we bring back a solid core of players for next year that the new coach will be able to build upon and hopefully take this to the next level. I think Skip has spent a tremendous amount of time on it, and we thank him for all he’s done and wish him well.”
Besides rebuilding the program, Gooch is proud of all his golfers, which include Air Force cadets and Division I graduates.
“I’m proud of the guys. They’ve all done well,” he said.
Those many factors that led to his resignation include the retirement of his wife, Jackie, who he called his biggest supporter, and the run for County Commission. Win or lose come June 7, he said, he’ll be taking some time to spend with her. And, until NMMI does hire a successor, he’s promised to stick around to help with recruiting and give his successor any help he needs.
But while he’ll always support the Broncos, he’s ready to turn over the reins when the time comes.
“Whoever takes the team next year, I want it to be their team. I don’t want it to be, ‘I’m standing in for coach Gooch.’ It’s not going to be that way. I want to give whoever takes it every helpful hint that I’ve learned the hard way the last five years.”