July 18, 2011
Each weekday in the month of July, MGoBlue.com will feature an interview with a U-M head coach. On Monday (July 18), first-year head men's golf coach Chris Whitten discusses summertime in Michigan, competing for a conference championship next season, and learning how to parallel park a golf cart.
What makes a men's golf offseason so unique?
The nature of golf is that it's a social and relaxing sport. Most of the people who play are doing it after work for enjoyment, and our guys when they're away from school are in a competitive mode, but they like that they can focus purely on their golf for a few months and that's fun for them. They're all making big steps, and the summer's a great time to do that.
Why are the summer months so important to the development of your team?
Summer is the time when guys can spend more hours in a day on their sport and more days per week. They're doing it in an environment where they are comfortable and they are getting the most out of the time that they have. Of the guys that I've watched practice and helped practice they have all made nice steps and are working on things that are individually correct for them. Of the guys who are at home, a lot of them are traveling and playing events and we've had some really nice finishes so far with two players in the final four of the Michigan Amateur and Jack (Schultz) in the sweet 16 in the US Amateur Public Links. They're all getting after it in their summer competition and doing really well.
What are your thoughts about next year's team?
Our hope is to continue the progress that we've been making without missing a step. That would mean qualifying for the NCAA Regional, and one of my personal goals is to really improve our finish at the Big Ten Championship and our standing within the conference. We have the same high expectations, and hopefully we don't miss a beat.
What was your first summer job?
I think my first summer job was the cart boy at my dad's golf course where he was the golf professional. It was Blythefield Country Club in Belmont, Michigan. That's where I learned how to back into a small parking space and clean a set of clubs.
Any special travel plans this summer?
We just finished a family vacation over near Lake Michigan in Saugatuck with my wife's family. Michigan is the perfect place to be in the summertime, so we didn't have to travel too far, but we've been fortunate to spend some family time.
Tell us one unique thing you've done since your season ended?
Going through the job change and the title change has been busy as is trying to make sure that everything is organized and steady with the team. It's been a busy summer to say the least, but probably one of the happiest and most exciting of my life so far.
Past MGoBlue.com Summer Sessions
Head Women's Golf Coach Cheryl Stacy (July 18)
Head Rowing Coach Mark Rothstein (July 15)
Head Women's Swimming Coach Jim Richardson (July 14)
Head Volleyball Coach Mark Rosen (July 13)
Head Men's Soccer Coach Steve Burns (July 12)
Head Women's Cross Country Coach Mike McGuire (July 11)
Head Men's Cross Country Coach Alex Gibby (July 11)
Head Women's Soccer Coach Greg Ryan (July 8)
Head Men's Tennis Coach Bruce Berque (July 7)
Head Men's Track & Field Coach Fred LaPlante (July 6)
Head Water Polo Coach Matt Anderson (July 5)
Head Men's Swimming & Diving Coach Mike Bottom (July 1)