A new start: GCCC hires Christian to guide golf programs
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
The Garden City Community college men's golf team, and the new women's golf program set to tee off in the fall of 2014, have a new head coach as the college announced the hiring of Matt Christian Thursday at a press conference in the Perryman Athletic Complex Hall of Fame room.
Christian will immediately take over the men's program from previous coach Phil Terpstra, who stepped aside when the college approved the addition of a women's program, with Christian overseeing both teams in the program.
The 39-year old Jonesboro, Ark., native owns and operates Elite Golf Performance, an Austin, Texas-based training facility, which Christian states on his rÃ©sumÃ© is, "dedicated to the highest level of total golf performance, golf lessons, golf schools, 3D biomechanical motion analysis, short game, club fitting, training aids, golf fitness, educational seminars and mental health and well being."
But Christian stated he is looking forward to the challenge of being a head coach.
"This is a new project, and it's an exciting project for me," he said in the press conference.
It will be an entirely new experience for Christian, who does not have any experience in coaching teams at any level.
"I know what it takes individually," he explained about his ability to coach a collegiate team. "Ultimately, what we do will be individually-based, but we have to come together as a team, like all sports do, and win a championship."
He also states that starting the women's program will be a different challenge, as well. But he has a goal for who he needs to recruit and how to build the program.
"I think we have to be somewhat patient," he explained. "We can't just take girls because we want girls to be on the team ... I want to pick girls from Kansas that can play."
Christian started playing golf as a child, and started competing in tournaments early, including finishing second in the state of Arkansas as a junior in high school, according to his rÃ©sumÃ©.
After high school, Christian stated that he played three years as a professional on the Hooters Tour, Gulf Coast Tour and Tour America in 1993 to 1996. After that, he began his instructional career, including the beginning of Elite Golf Performance.
During his time with Elite Golf Performance, Christian states that he has "trained winners on the PGA, Champions, Web.com and LPGA Tours, along with two U.S. Open Champions."
Christian said that background will give him an advantage in coaching and recruiting.
"I don't have all the answers. And when you don't, you better make phone calls to people who do," he said. "I have a lot of resources I can contact."
Christian will also rely on Terpstra, who will stay on as an assistant coach, as well as Cole Wasinger, head professional at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course, who will also stay as an assistant coach.
In future tournaments where the men's and women's teams are not competing at the same facility, Christian will take one team and the other team will be accompanied by either Terpstra or Wasinger, GCCC athletic director Ryan Ruda said.
Christian stated that there were three big reasons he took the position. The first was his relationship with GCCC President Herb Swender, who is listed as the first "testimonial" on the Elite Golf Performance website. The second was the two golf courses in town — The Golf Club at Southwind and Buffalo Dunes Golf Course.
The third was that he fell in love with the town when he came to Garden City in September of 2013 to work with the men's team at Swender's invitation.
"We have everything you need to win a championship," he said.
The men's golf team begins its spring schedule on Feb. 23 at the New Mexico Militaru Institute Invitational in Roswell, N.M.
"We have some talent," Christian said of the men's team and the coaching of Terpstra and Wasinger. "They've done a good hob of taking them, doing the best they can with them. But, that's what my goal is going to be as the full-time coach is to just to get them a little more organized.
"The team doesn't really believe in themselves, but they have talent."
In the three conference tournaments during the fall schedule, the Busters finished in sixth, tied for fourth, and seventh, respectively, in the Jayhawk Conference.
Ruda said in a post-press conference telephone interview that the school had received three applications for the position, and that Christian was the lone candidate brought into town for an on-campus interview. That occurred the first week of December, prior to the holiday break.
"We absolutely like the hire," Ruda said of Christian. "He brings a sense of business to the position. His personality is such that he can relate to the students. He's got a great ability to build rapport with the students. He's got a lot of assets and skills to build the program."
Ruda said that Christian started his official duties on Jan. 8.