Director of golf James dedicated to winning with two teams

“Director” is a new title for James, who is now head coach of both men and women.

Nick Heronimus

In past years coach Brad James has been responsible for only the Minnesota men’s golf team, but now his role has expanded to director of Gophers golf.

His new role includes being head coach of the Gopher women’s program along with his previous role as Minnesota men’s coach. It is a task that might seem daunting for some, but James has his goals for both programs already in mind.

“My first few years with women’s program will be to get them to a new level, but at the same time making sure the men’s program doesn’t slip,” James said.

Preventing the men’s program from slipping will be important because of the high level they are performing at right now.

James has guided the Gophers men to impressive seasons in his tenure as head coach. Those seasons include a 2002 NCAA Championship, 2006 NCAA third-place finish, and back-to-back Big Ten Championships in 2002 and 2003.

The talent level of Minnesota golf has also increased dramatically while he has been the head coach. Nine of the 15 All-American golfers from Minnesota have been recruited by James.

Junior Victor Almstrom, who achieved honorable mention All-American honors last season under James, felt no difference in the Gophers’ opening tournament this season.

“This tournament felt like any other tournament we have had in past years,” Almstrom said.

The differences within the Gophers’ men’s program have been a switch to more individualized workouts from the previous standard team practices.

“The switch has been an easy one,” said senior Clayton Rask, due to good communication between James and assistant head coach Andrew Tank.

“They are really close on communication on how things are going,” Rask said. “If we talk to (Tank) about something he can relay it back to James. It is nice having their relationship and it will help.”

Tank will play an important role in the transition of the Gophers’ program. When both the Minnesota men’s and women’s golf teams are competing, Tank will serve as head coach for the men’s team allowing James to coach the Gophers women’s squad.

James sees no reason why Tank cannot successfully lead Minnesota on those weekends.

“I have 100 percent confidence in coach Andrew Tank,” James said.

The players feel the same level of confidence as James does in the new role of Tank and appreciate his new role.

“Everything that Andrew tank has been doing has been great,” Almstrom said.

Hand-in-hand with the individualized workouts has been an increased leadership role for some of the players and Rask has already stepped up to that challenge.

“They (younger players) ask you questions, and in five years of experience you can tell them one or two things,” Rask said.

The Gopher Invitational was the first test for the Minnesota men’s team since the coaching change and it was met with mixed results. The Gophers finished eighth in a talent-studded pack. Despite the results, James said this is a good change for Minnesota golf.

“Obviously we will have some bumps in the road,” he said. “But both programs will benefit from it in the end.”