WAKEFIELD’S Dan Bradbury came through exams involving both his course work and his on-course work with flying colours during his first year of a four-year golf scholarship in the USA.
Now he is back home for the summer and over the next eight weeks hopes to pass tests on this side of the Atlantic as he plays in five major amateur events.
They will include the English amateur championship, at Formby and Hesketh, the Walton Heath Trophy (the South of England championship) and the Berkshire Trophy.
The former Yorkshire Boys’ captain will go into them with the confidence gained from a stellar first year at the Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, that included both a tournament win – in the Tennessee River Rumble – and the accolade of being named the South Atlantic Conference Men’s Golf Freshman of the Year.
“I can’t really complain about anything. It has been brilliant,” said the 18-year-old, who promptly won the Leeds scratch stroke play title within 48 hours of returning home.
The American college year is split into two semesters, and Bradbury described his play in the first as average and in the second as inconsistent, with good and bad tournaments.
However, you suspect he is downplaying his performances for as well as winning the Freshman of the Year award, on scoring average, and the Conference Freshman of the Year award, he also got onto the Conference second team, having placed in the top 10 in its tournaments, and nationally finished inside the top 75.
Furthermore he was named in the All American Freshman team, based on placing among the top five freshmen at the National finals tournament.
Bradbury had helped his college – known as the Railsplitters – to reach the latter event for the first time in its history, which was the cause of much celebration.
In the class – he is studying for a Business Management degree – he achieved a grade point average of 3.7, where 4 is the maximum, having obtained four As, one B and one B+.
But like so many gifted young amateurs he is hoping the degree is only a fall-back option with the life of a tournament golfer his preferred career path.
He feels he has made great strides in pursuit of this dream with the main benefit of his first year’s coaching being a more positive outlook when playing.
“I have definitely made steps forward in my game,” he said. “I feel like my whole mentality has changed.
“When I was playing over here in the summer before I went to college if I got to a couple under par I would be thinking, ‘let’s just keep it here, let’s just keep it under par, that’s good’.
“Now if I get two under I want to get to three, and if I get to three I want to get to four or five.
“The thing is in the events over there if you are not going low then someone else is.
“I shot four under in Miami and I was tied for the lead after the first round, but there were about 15 other people under par. I think I shot one over in the second round and I dropped to something like 16th place.
“I think that the positive mentality has also also helped me finish off rounds better because before if I was two under I would maybe finish with a couple of bogeys because I was just trying to get it in, to get to the clubhouse in a couple under, whereas now I’m thinking, ‘I’ve got to three, let’s get to four’.
“You might sometimes make a bogey as a result, but you might also make another birdie or two.”
Bradbury settled into college life quickly and said he only felt the pangs of homesickness briefly approaching last Christmas when the reality that he was so close to going home after a four-month absence started to kick in.
But he is looking forward to his second year – he returns on August 11 – although first he has his eye on proving in home events that his game has moved to a higher level thanks to his successful freshman year.