The Hillsdale College Men’s Golf Team will go through its spring season with a new head coach. Matthew Thompson, a former standout on the University of Michigan Golf Team, became interim coach for the Chargers earlier this month. He took the place of former head coach Nate Gilchrist, who will serve as a consultant to the team.
After traveling to St. Augustine Florida with the team for its first spring tournament on Feb. 10 and 11, Thompson said he’s excited to be back in the college-golf atmosphere.
“It was cool to bring back some of those memories from when I was in school,” Thompson said. “And I think having those experiences, I have an idea of what I want the team to look like. Being able to implement some of those things will be a blast and teaching the guys how to play the game.”
After graduating from the University of Michigan in 2012, Thompson played professionally in Mini Tours for five years. Junior Logan Anuszkiewicz said Thompson brings knowledge from his professional career that can help the team improve its tournament strategy.
“He’s got a lot of good tournament advice and strategies when playing tournament golf or playing on difficult golf courses,” Anuszkiewicz said. “His experience in that category, even though he hasn’t ever been a coach, just the knowledge in that aspect is huge.”
Thompson said he hopes to improve the team’s physical approach to the game but also hopes to see players improve their mental game.
“It’s something you kind of learn later, as you go, but I’m hoping I can give them that knowledge while they’re still 18, 19, 20 years old and hopefully get them ahead of the game a little bit,” Thompson said.
Senior Ryan Zetwick said Thompson helped the team improve its approach on the course in Florida.
“He was very good at interacting with us and making sure we had the right mindset,” Zetwick said. “He calmed us down, joked with us, and made sure we were in the right frame of mind. He did a great job.”
Anuszkiewicz added that Thompson knows a lot about the golf swing, making it easier to help players improve their own swing.
“He’s very educated with the golf swing and what needs to happen,” Anuszkiewicz said. “He knows the fundamentals.”
Thompson said golf has always been part of his life, as he had a golf club in his hands when he was 3 years old and has been playing ever since. He started taking the game more seriously when he got into high school.
“It’s pretty much been a part of everything,” Thompson said. “I played in college, and then I played professionally, and then I worked at a golf course, and now I’m a golf coach. It’s pretty much taken me everywhere, but I’m very excited to be here.”
Through all of his years of playing, Thompson said his favorite aspect of the game was competition.
“It’s nice to kind of get back into that,” Thompson said. “It’s a lot harder when you don’t have control. But even at the first tournament we were at, just getting back to that whole realm was a lot of fun.”
While the game has taught him a lot about hard work, Thompson said the biggest lesson he’s learned from golfing has been patience.
“You have to learn that it’s not the end of the world when things don’t go right,” Thompson said.
Thompson said he hopes to draw on his own experiences and use the team’s talent to have a successful spring season.
“We have a great base going forward, and that’s credit to the previous previous coach, Nate,” Thompson said. “It’ll be about getting them to buy-in with what they can really achieve.”