WAKEFIELD’S Dan Bradbury made an immediate impact on the local scene just 48 hours after returning to Yorkshire following a successful first year of a golf scholarship in the USA.
Bradbury fired a two-under-par 70 at Wike Ridge to win the Leeds scratch stroke play championship, which was contested over one round rather than two for the first time since its inception.
The former Yorkshire Boys’ captain is looking to add further victories before returning to college in Tennessee on August 11, but a difference in the handicap system in the USA, where a player’s mark is fixed for two years means he will miss out on some of the big events as he is off plus one.
Introduced to the game by his father Richard, a long- standing member of Wakefield Golf Club, the young Bradbury attended Saturday afternoon coaching sessions, but he didn’t get serious about the game until he was 13 or 14 when he “thought he could do something in golf”.
He swapped Kettlethorpe High School and then Pontefract New college for a new challenge at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee. A golf scholarship in the USA had been on his radar for some time and he’s clearly enjoying life Stateside having made a real impact both on and off the course.
“You hear about people going over there, but until you get there you don’t realise just how good it is to play against the best on great courses in great weather. The studying is pretty easy and it’s a very nice lifestyle,” he said. His freshman year has been a memorable one on the golf course. He achieved the biggest win of his career in the in the Tennessee River Rumble and was also named the South Atlantic Conference Men’s Golf Freshman of the Year.
“The win was a real milestone for me. The best player in our team is Sam Broadhead – he’s much better than me – but he’s three years older and has never won on our collegiate circuit, so, it was a big deal.”
In addition to 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, helping his college – known as the Railsplitters due to Lincoln being employed as one during his early life – to reach the finals for the first time in its history.
With it has come a more confident and aggressive approach to the game from the 18-year-old.
“In the past if I got a couple under I would try and protect it, but now I think about getting it to five or six and I think that has come from an environment of continually competing against top players .
“The other difference is that I am now much better at scoring well when I’m not playing well and again that’s all down to moving up to a higher level of competition.”
The Yorkshire Union junior coaching scheme gave Bradbury the chance to work with Steve Robinson seven years ago, and modern technology has made it easy for him to stay in regular contact.
“My swing is quite basic, and I have three or four faults that come back from time to time and if I can’t spot them myself I will send video to Robbo as he knows exactly where I should be,” he explained.
Bradbury reckons Robinson and fellow Yorkshire and England coach Graham Walker are the best in the business and admits the “coaching” experience with the Railspiltters is a contrast to say the least.
“The coaches are very laid back and the head coach Travis Muncy is super nice and will do anything for you, but they pretty much leave it to us when it comes to playing,” he said. “They are more like caddies than coaches.”
Equally diverse is the educational approach where the curriculum includes studying the life and times of Abraham Lincoln, who was the 16th President of the United States of America. He’s also proving to be a star in the classroom, achieving a grade point average of 3.7, where 4 is the maximum, in his studies for a Business Management degree. But he admits the studying is not too taxing leaving him plenty of time to improve his golf game.
He is a keen follower of Yorkshire-born professionals who are now competing on the European Tour, especially those who have followed a similar path, such as Matt Fitzpatrick. “I know Matt left Northwestern University after a year, but after twelve months playing against the very best he probably realised that he could excel at that level and decided to turn pro.
“ As it stands right now I’m planning to stay the full term of four years as I don’t want to waste the opportunity, but if I continue to play well and can beat the best, who knows?”