Coach creates winning mentality for Rutgers
With the Rutgers men’s golf team failing to win a tournament since 2009, head coach Rob Shutte took over the program in 2012 knowing there was work to be done.
Now in his third season, Shutte has not only led the Scarlet Knights to a tournament victory but also implemented a competitive environment he believes will prepare the team for long-term success.
“We needed to create a culture of winning and an idea of what it was going to take to win,” Shutte said. “That took a lot of breaking down and having them understand what the obstacles were ahead of us to get us where we need to be and have them buy in to what we wanted to accomplish with the program.”
One idea the team has adopted is that each player is capable of winning any tournament. It worked Sept. 24 when Rutgers won the 17-team Hartford Hawks Invitational.
In the four tournaments the team has played, four different Knights have led Rutgers’ scorecards.
Junior Jacob Stockl won the Rutgers Invitational on Sept. 14, senior Doug Walters tied for a career-high second at the Hartford Hawks Invitational, sophomore Jonathan Chang led the squad Oct. 1at the Badger Invitational and last Tuesday, senior Jonathan Renza led the team at the Wolfpack Intercollegiate in Raleigh, N.C.
With so many players performing well early, Walters believes Shutte’s leadership has played a big role in helping many players realize their potential.
“I think just my competitive drive has been increased with Coach Shutte on the team,” Walters said. “Coach has helped me with my putting and my swing, but mentally he’s helped me a lot with the details and preparations for the tournaments and executing that game plan.”
Shutte has tinkered with the past two tournament’s lineups, allowing freshmen Ryan Rose and Chase Wheatley to gain valuable experience. While this may have stunted some of the Knights’ early success, Walters feels Shutte’s emphasis on building depth will benefit Rutgers long-term.
“There’s kind of a sweat of having other guys take our position, so I think he’s established that he’s going to bring in guys that can challenge and bring out the best of us,” Walters said.
Shutte has also demonstrated an ability to recruit out-of-state talent, particularly from California.
Since joining the program, Shutte has recruited three California residents: Rose, Chang and freshman Michael Howe. All three play significant roles on the team.
Shutte believes the diversity of local and out-of-state talent increases the team’s competitiveness and provides a bonding experience.
“I think it’s a better experience in the long run for the guys,” Shutte said. “They get to experience guys from different parts of the country … and it’s what makes the team fun.”
Rutgers faces a two-week tournament layoff. While some teams may see it as a time for leisure, the Knights will continue with their regular practice routines.
Shutte’s dedication toward the team attracted Chang to the program.
“I could see what he was trying to do with the program and he was just [the] coach I was looking for,” Chang said. “Talking to other coaches, I always asked what they would see happening in the next five years with the program and [Shutte’s] answer was to be a top-25 program. Right off the bat I [was confident] and he’s one of the best coaches that I have had.”
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