Stanford's golf program is like no other in the country. It's unique, and it competes year in and year out for the national title. Stanford has won eight national titles in school history and has won the PAC-12 Championships in the last three years. Stanford's golf team has been one of nation's best programs in recent years and should be for years to come.
What sets Stanford's golf program apart from the rest of the nation is their world class practice facility. Only accessible to the golf team and a select few, the practice facility has been very beneficial to the team in order to be a top program. The facility has a magnificent practice range, multiple short game areas, and top technology for training.
The Knowles Family Director of Men's Golf, Conrad Ray, stated, "Having a world class practice facility has been key for us in recruiting, preparation, and efficiency. We want the best players and students to want to come here, train and develop in all facets while here, and have that experience be effective and measurable." The facility was built to be the finest in the country, and it has allowed Stanford's golf team to be the finest program in the country.
Stanford is a difficult school to attend. It's rigorous and challenging especially for a golfer. Traveling on the road a lot, Stanford golfers need to be focused on schoolwork and get ahead on their workload. Like all Stanford coaches, Coach Conrad Ray needs to find the brightest students that can handle the difficult curriculum.
Coach Ray commented on recruiting,
"I think the challenge is out there for all sports at Stanford to find the best and brightest. It takes work to find the highest achievers on and off the course but now more than ever, student athletes, are recognizing that a degree from a quality institution like Stanford pays dividends in so many ways."
Stanford dominated 2016 with the help of the nation's top amateur Maverick McNealy. After winning six tournaments his sophomore year, McNealy won four college tournaments as a junior, and hopefully, he'll add to that total next year. Specifically, McNealy shot the lowest 54 hole score ever by a Cardinal at Pasatiempo after shooting a 194. With the best college player in the nation, Stanford should feel confident heading into the 2017 golf season.
Over the course of last season, sophomore Franklin "The Tank" Huang showed a lot of promise and was Stanford's most improved player.
Coach Conrad Ray said of Huang,
"In the fall, he was struggling to make our top five and in the spring he was able to finish in the top 10 multiple times, win the NCAA Tucson Regional, and be picked as an honorable mention selection on the All-American Team. Things can change pretty quickly."
If Franklin can continue to develop into star, he should be a fabulous contributor next year along side McNealy.
Stanford hopes to win a 4th consecutive PAC-12 Championship next year. McNealy and Huang both return, but David Boote and Dominick Francks have graduated. Both seniors have played important roles on the team, but luckily, Stanford has enough depth to adjust next year. In order to compete in 2017, Coach Conrad Ray thinks that the team should focus on work ethic, attitude, and passion. If the team can improve those three aspects of golf, maybe they can accomplish more than winning a PAC-12 Championship.
Lastly, Stanford could not have a better man leading the golf team. As a former Stanford golfer, Coach Conrad Ray has spent twelve years as head coach and taken the team to nine NCAA Championships. Specifically, Coach Ray led Stanford to their eighth national title and won the National Coach of the Year in 2007. Coach Ray has also won the PAC-12 Coach of the Year on multiple occasions.
Above all, however, Coach Ray truly loves his job. He said, "My favorite part is being around the guys everyday." Coach Ray enjoys being with his players, and with Coach Ray at the helm, Stanford's dominance in golf shouldn't be stopped.