Northeast Alabama Community College head golf coach Darrell Kirk is still an “old school teacher” at heart.
So when he reflected on the golf program’s first year of existence, he gave it a grade.
“I’d probably give it a ‘C,’” Kirk said. “We learned things to do, things we shouldn’t do, things we need to work on.”
Year 1 of anything always features a learning curve, and NACC’s first venture through a golf season provided the education the program needed. Everyone involved learned. The subjects ranged from scheduling — both tournaments and class schedules in order to get all the golfers at practice — to logistics.
“The nerves from starting a program are settled now,” said NACC Director of Office of Extended Day/Distance Learning and athletic director Chad Gorham. “We’ve found our footing and I think we’re in a good spot. Year 1 helped us put down some roots, get some publicity and let folks know that Northeast is back in business in athletics with golf. We want to serve our area. We’re trying to do that. We’re glad to provide this opportunity.”
NACC was out of athletics for nearly four decades until the golf team debuted last fall. It followed the donation of Dogwood Hills Golf Resort and Gardens to the Northeast Alabama Community College Foundation several years ago by owners Doris and the late Bryce Slater.
NACC made the announcement that it was starting its golf programs last May, then had a golfers signed a couple of months later. It’s been a whirlwind, Kirk said, but he’s “enjoyed every minute of it.”
While NACC was playing its spring schedule, Kirk was also busy recruiting. He walked a lot of courses following high school golfers.
“I went to a lot of tournaments, a lot of matches,” Kirk said. “I’m talking to seniors and I’m also talking to [underclassmen] because that could be our future.”
That future looks promising. The play on the course will improve. But the program has already made an impact off the course for the student-athletes that have and will get to play a sport they love while receiving a college education.
NACC golf is providing opportunities that some athletes would not have had otherwise. That alone is reason for everyone to root for the success of the NACC golf programs.
› Jason Bowen is the sports editor of the Sentinel. Jason can be reached by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @jbo_sports12