Dan the man's big plan
BY DANNY LOCKWOOD
You’ve got to love it when a plan comes together. And so far, Wakefield golfer Dan Bradbury is a man with a plan that’s going just sweetly, thank you very much.
The former Yorkshire Boys captain is home for the summer, after a record-breaking four-year stint at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee.
Record breaking? Dan didn’t just re-write the Railsplitters’ record books (all US colleges have nicknames) – he tore them to shreds and made them start again. And it won’t need updating for a while. Quite a while.
The most winning golfer in LMU history (nine titles – a win every five comps), all-time low scoring records, taking the college to new heights in their NCAA Div II history, all-star honours, a Jack Nicklaus award nomination, Academic All-American …. the plaudits go on and on.
Such as there have been minor disappointments, a Walker Cup place would have been nice, but Dan can rationalise that. After all, it was a risk of the plan.
When he sought a collegiate career his ProDream Agency advisor Lorne Kelly pointed him in the direction of the Division II schools – he would get better, more lucrative offers – rather than join the huge pack of ambitious golfers chasing Division I places.
Not only did it yield four fantastic years of golf, a double honours degree in sports and business management, but in August he turns the next page, starting at one of the USA’s elite sports colleges, with the Seminoles of Florida State. And Dan only chose FSU over an array of other top 10 colleges eager to recruit the proven winner – Florida, the alma mater of Yorkshire-born Joe Pagdin, Pepperdine, Oklahoma, Louisville, Arizona.
Another let-down – more a matter of unavoidable timings – was missing his graduation ceremony from LMU, always a big day in the life of college graduates. Along with Welsh golfer Luke Harries, Dan was in tournament action at the Regional Championships. His teammates threw a ‘joke’ party for them the night before. But as has been the case for a long time, the golf business had to come first.
“I loved Tennessee, the people are very chilled out and relaxed,” he said. “Our university was in the middle of nowhere. Ten minutes to the nearest supermarket and probably 45 minutes to the nearest town.
“I was told before I went out, there are three things you can do at Uni, you can enjoy yourself, you can study and you can play golf. And if you try to do all three you’ll fail, but if you focus on two of them you’ll do all right.
“And where I was I didn’t really get chance too much chance to ‘enjoy’ myself in regard to going out and partying and things! But I managed to enjoy myself with my golf.”
One of the goals as he starts a Masters degree in sports management is to establish himself in the world top 100. As he explained: “I have set myself a few goals for next year. In terms of long term and turning pro, I’ve not really thought too much.
“I need to get myself back in the top 100 in the world. I got into it around Christmas time, but the standard of the events I’ve been playing at LMU, if I won I would come down five places, but if I came third I’d go up 30 places.
“That’s just the nature of the events I was in and there was nothing I could do, so I just got on with it. When I go back to Florida I should break into the top 100 and hopefully the top 50 and that’s the main aim, because the top 50 qualify for the US Amateur the year after.
“If I get into the that I’ll probably turn pro afterwards, and if not I’ll probably come back here and play a couple of events like The Amateur Championship and then turn pro after that. We’ll see when the time comes.
“I’ve had a conversation about the next Walker Cup but that’s in two-and-a-half years because of Covid so it’s a long time to wait.”
As part of the English men’s set-up Dan has had a week’s coaching at Woodhall Spa, but the European Team Championships were a victim of Covid and he may not get to play in The Brabazon due to his scheduled return to Florida.
In the meantime he’s been happy contributing points towards both the Leeds Inter District team and Yorkshire in the recent county thrashing of Northumberland – who ironically had recently beaten the White Rose men to the Northern Regional team title.
Such as he enjoys a casual knock round Woodthorpe with dad Richard, the old man is taking a bit of beating right now – because Dan was a ‘modest’ +1 when he started at LMU but is now a +5.9 handicap.
“I have to give him a shot a hole,” he explained. Dad gets 11 shots round Wakefield and I have to give seven.”
So, who picks up the wins, generally?
“It depends which version of dad shows up,” he laughs.
Dan has just one year of US college eligibility remaining, but he wants to get his Masters half done and, if he ever does need a Plan B, it will be there to finish.
“The best thing for me was that I knew that if I didn’t get the offer I wanted for the scholarship I needed, I could always just come home. It was going to be great to find somewhere, but if I didn’t it wasn’t the end of the world.
“Florida State probably wasn’t the best offer scholarship-wise but it was clearly the best offer opportunity-wise. It was something I really couldn’t turn down.”
And as for Tallahassee-based Florida State being a bit livelier than LMU, it’s doubtful he’ll be too distracted.
“I’ll be one of the older ones there – I might be past all that, I’m getting on a bit. Early nights for a golfer, with a lot of early starts!”
So, not just a plan, but two feet firmly on the ground too.