Playing golf at a place like West Virginia is different than most.
It’s very different from being located in places like California and Florida, where the climates are often warmer. Schools in those locations and golfers in those players have the luxury of training year-round outside and having access to courses all year.
WVU and many places in a region similar to this one are not like that. The first part to head coach Sean Covich’s formula in terms of recruiting is based on where some of the recruits come from. How will they deal with the winter months?
“I think it starts with the players and where do they come from?” Covich said. “I think they need to almost come from cold weather backgrounds because that’s what we’re going to have to deal with, so we’ll see some kids from Canada, some kids from Europe, some kids from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia. They’re used to that.”
Other schools have found that formula and found a lot of success with that approach. Just look at Illinois, which is ranked No. 17 in the GCAA Coaches Poll. Seven of its nine golfers come from areas that encounter the rough winter months; the other two were from California and Arizona. With all of that, Illinois is a successful program, but that is not the only school Covich alludes to.
Another successful program is Penn State (roughly a three-hour drive from WVU), which is technically No. 27 in the national polls due to how many votes it received.
“If they’re able to do it, there’s no reason we can’t,” Covich said. “You get kids that are used to cold weather because we’re going to experience that at some point in January or February. I think you’ve got to know who you are. We’re not in the south.”
In order to be one of the premier golf schools, you need to find your identity in recruiting. Some of WVU’s Big 12 counterparts – Oklahoma State and Oklahoma – definitely have. Both are ranked as the top two teams in the country.
“You just have to be able to know your niche in recruiting and know what kind of kid is going to flourish here and really love being here,” Covich said. “That kind of helps us navigate recruiting.”
Covich will make exceptions, though. If a golfer is a true fit and can benefit the program, why wouldn’t you take them?
Five of WVU’s eight golfers come from states with colder weather. One is from Australia. One is from Georgia. Another is from North Carolina. It’s better in most instances for someone to be accustomed to West Virginia’s weather and has grown up in something similar, but in the end, Covich wants whoever fits best.
“It’s based on the kid,” Covich said. “You’ve just got to be honest with them like, ‘Hey, here’s who we are, here’s where we’re located and these are the pros and cons of our program.’ I think they’ll just kind of figure it out. Honestly, if a kid’s from Texas or he’s from Montreal, it doesn’t matter to me. If he wants to be here and can help us, then we’ll get him here.”