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Dialing Back

Dec. 12, 2013

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

This is as everyone knows, a different time of year, a special time. Few may know, however, just how unique it is for the Georgia Tech golf team.

For nearly the entire year, they grind at their games. Even in the summer, they practice plenty and travel quite a bit to play in amateur events around the nation. At Tech, they play a fall season and an especially encompassing spring season that in fact runs past the end of the school year.

Now, they chillax – or chill and relax.

So on Thursday afternoon, there in the management building were Ollie Schniederjans, Seth Reeves and Anders Albertson, together, working on a market research group project that when turned in Friday will wrap up their semester.

Some golfers go weeks at a time without touching their clubs in November and/or December. Schniederjans, who is ranked the No. 1 college golfer in the nation right now, went to consecutive weeks completely away from the sport last fall.

They’re each going about it a little differently now. If coach Bruce Heppler had his way, none of his golfers would fiddle with the game for weeks at a time.

Albertson is complying . . . for the most part.

“I’m not playing at all. This has been the first time I have been able to completely shut it down, take it easy and get my grades, and work out and see some friends,” he said. “You have an opportunity to go someplace cool during the day because you don’t have to practice. Maybe go to the Aquarium or theater at a time usually blocked off for golf.

“I’ll pick them up just because I have clubs all over the place, but I’m planning on not practicing until after Christmas. We’ll see if it actually happens. I’ve done some putting in the golf office, but I’ve not been out to a golf course.”

Reeves, a senior, has time to Twerk but he’s tweaking instead.

“I have some things I’m working on in my golf swing this offseason. If you want to change something mechanically or equipment, this is the time,” he explained. “I still scale it back a good bit and practice once or twice a week on good-weather days.”

Schniederjans is using this time for a different kind of maintenance.

“Last year, I didn’t touch a club for a bit. I’ve tried to keep up a little bit . . . pick good weather days to go out there and keep my feel, work on my putting inside,” he said. “I went and got fitted for all new equipment. It’s been two years since I got new clubs.

“After Christmas, I’ll play with my friends back home. I never have time for that; they’re not in town. We all come home for Christmas break.”

There is more time now for family and friends. From January through October, and for Schniederjans and Albertson right up to a few days before Thanksgiving, it was practice, practice, practice, workout, workout, workout, class, class, class, play, play, play.

It’s different these days.

“For instance, my sister goes to Piedmont and she’s a freshman and she’s in the theater program,” Reeves said. “I couldn’t go to her first two plays or I would maybe be able to see her . . . for 30 minutes or an hour and then we’re going our separate ways.

“This is a chance to see the rest of my family and let life slow down a little bit. There’s a time for getting on your horse and going pretty hard with golf, and there’s a time to just kind of do things slower and be calm and rest a lot.”

In one way, the golfers go harder in November and December.

“We’ll workout four days a week. Normally, we work out two during the season,” Reeves added. “We go at it a lot harder. For most of us on this team . . . we’re trying to put on weight, add a little bit of strength and so that’s really the time when we can try to get a little stronger.”

The golf team routinely finishes at the top of the APR heap, usually with a perfect score. Among the reasons: the golfers work hard to set their schedules to match the fall semester, when they have a slightly lighter in-season schedule and a much lighter schedule at the end of the term. There is no similar down time in the spring.

“We usually have to take our harder classes in the fall because we know we have a month and a half of no golf,” Reeves said. “We normally workout in the morning, go to class, go practice, and you can’t get to homework until 7 or 8 o’clock and it turns into a long day.

“It was hard my first couple years here at school [to slow down at golf] . . . I think I’ve learned that you’re almost hurting yourself not putting your clubs up for a little bit.”

Time has helped the golfers adjust and see the wisdom of dialing back. They’re either not playing or barely playing.

“The reason I’m doing this now is to have that feeling when I come back where you have that itch,” Albertson said. “From January to the end of October we’re in that routine. I love doing that. But eventually you get to a point where you’ve done it so long . . .

“I think the main reason coach wants us to shut it down is just to have that feeling of excitement when we get back from break and we can hit the ground running.”

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