Releases

For Immediate Release: August 23, 2008
Contact: John Hartrick(hartrick@binghamton.edu)
Phone: 607-777-6800

Q&A with BU head golf coach Bernie Herceg

(Acclaimed local golf professional Bernie Herceg was named BU's new golf coach on April 24. He has been the PGA Director of Golf at BU's home course - The Links at Hiawatha Landing - for 10 years. The Links, located in nearby Apalachin, N.Y., has been most recently ranked the third best public access course in New York State by Goldweek Magazine, and Herceg has served as its head pro since 1996. As he enters his first year at Binghamton in 2008-09, Herceg shared insight into his background, teaching philosophy and goals for the Bearcats golf program.)

What are your initial goals for the golf program?

To strengthen our golf program and be more competitive. Good academics. Have a structured practice program. Win our conference championship annually.

What are the challenges you and the team face this season?

On a personal side, getting to know the players. On the golf side, we need our scoring to be more consistent. Also, replacing Zach Vinal!

What excites you most about coaching at Binghamton?

Being able to coach at a great school and the Division I level. And to be able to be part of helping the golfers mature and reach their goals.

What kind of student-athlete are you looking to bring to Binghamton?

I'm looking for players with good personalities and who fit with the University's mission. Also, golfers who are dedicated, hard working, have pride, mental toughness, heart and drive.

What are your fondest memories of your own college playing career?

Besides the friendships and camaraderie, being an Academic All-American. Attaining my goals academically and athletically.

What do you enjoy most about the sport of golf?

The challenge of the sport. Every golf course is different. The pursuit of playing great golf (ball striking, short game and scoring). I love to practice. Pulling off the shot when needed and the pressure is on.

With your PGA teaching background, you are well aware of the recent
technological aids and trends in the game. How has instruction and
the game itself changed recently?

The technology has allowed the instructor to analyze and identify more precisely what is going wrong with the swing, and it helps to communicate this and show the student, so they can see for themselves what is wrong. Most of the time what you think and feel you're doing with the swing is not what you're actually doing, and video helps prove that, and you can show the student which helps the learning process.

Now that there is also 3-D analysis and bringing in the biomechanics part of the swing, we now understand more of how the body operates in the golf swing. From this, physical fitness plays a major role with golfers. We now have golf specific exercises and training methods so golfers can train their body correctly and the body can perform at a more efficient and consistent level. But even with all the technology and bells and whistles, it still comes down to the fundamentals, if you're not set up correctly, you're already setting yourself up for failure. Fundamentals are still the most important part of the swing, so you can allow your body to have the chance for a great swing with plenty of energy. Technology has also helped with viewing great players' swings and learning from them. Technology has helped with instruction, but there's so much more to golf than having a perfect swing. Technology can't help with aspects such as course management, scoring, handling pressure, etc. Technology, can at times, be a disadvantage. It has hurt some great players because they start to focus too much on the mechanics and they lose site of just playing the game.

What are the hardest aspects of golf for anyone to learn?

Coordination, if it doesn't come naturally for that individual. Also, understanding the importance of the fundamentals. It seems that people forget about the fundamentals and this is the primary cause for missed shots. Another aspect is not fully understanding the importance of the short game. It seems everyone wants to hit the ball far and straight, but you also need to learn how to get it in the hole.

You were an honors student in business while you played college
golf. How did you balance both requirements and how do you currently
advise your student-athletes on the challenges of juggling so many
things in college?

First off you need to set goals for yourself. For me, it was to be the best I can with my academics and to be an honors student. I wasn't going to throw away any opportunities. Next it was to perform well for our team and school. You need to be dedicated, focused, hard working, disciplined and get along well with your teammates. Also, don't be afraid to use the resources of the institution to help you attain your goals.

Who were/are your inspirations or role models, both athletically and
personally?

Athletically, I've always loved baseball. Growing up I'd say it was Bobby Murcer for the NY Yankees. For golf, I was inspired by the guys who worked hard on their games ... Ben Hogan, Nick Faldo. Personally, I'd have to say my parents. They never pushed me or made me do things when it came to sports. They were always fair to me and very supportive of the decisions I made.

What points of pride do you emphasize with recruits about the kind
of education and athletic experience they will receive at Binghamton?

First off, to have Division I athletics at our University is phenomenal. Our athletics department is very dedicated to our programs being successful. When it comes to the academics, our school speaks for itself. The education that one will receive here is second-to-none and to be awarded a degree from our institution gives any individual the opportunities in life they are seeking.

What other sports did you play as a teenager and how did you get
into the sport of golf?

Basketball and baseball were the two main sports I liked to play. I basically became more involved with golf once I figured that baseball wasn't the sport I was going to excel at. I really didn't start taking golf seriously until I was a sophomore in high school.

With many of the top notch young golfers entering college with personal instructors and vast individual playing experience, what do you try to focus on to improve their games and create a team environment?

First off I will evaluate players to understand their learning methods and their philosophy on the golf swing. From there, I will focus on maintaining their goals and our team goals, in addition to maintaining sound fundamentals and instruction. When It comes to the team environment, even though golf is very individual when it comes to scoring, it's still a team sport. One person is not going to win tournaments; it will be all the players' combined scores. I feel the team environment will be good because our team practices, inter-squad challenges, team travel, winning events as a team, and encouraging each other will build good team unity and camaraderie.

Talk about BU's home course, The Links at Hiawatha Landing, and what
makes it an outstanding test for any golfer and a perfect home course
for your team.

I feel The Links is a perfect home course for our team because of the challenge of the course and the outstanding practice facilities, that give our players the opportunity to focus and train on all aspects of their game. The Links at Hiawatha Landing is a great course and great test. It will challenge all levels of golfers. The course can be stretched out to be over 7,100 yards from the championship tees. Being a Links-style course, there are many options in front of you to play each hole. Course management really comes into play as you need to think your way around as well as strike the ball well. Players will use every club in their bag throughout the round. All the bunkers were very well placed and come into play on every hole. The course can be very challenging, especially if the wind picks up, but also very fair. Players will be rewarded when they hit good shots. This course definitely will separate the very good players from the average ones.

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