Antigonish golfer Bobby Dunphy continues to make strides as a Sand Shark.
Dunphy is back in Antigonish for his summer break, after completing his junior year competing for the University of South Carolina (S.C.) at Beaufort, which is near Hilton Head, S.C., and the Georgia border.
The Sand Sharks home course is the Oldfield Golf Club in Okatie, S.C.; a course designed by golfing legend Greg Norman.
Asked about the season, Dunphy began by proudly talking about the year he and his teammates enjoyed in National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ (NAIA) The Sun Conference (TSC) competition.
“We had a good season; we had one of the top ranked players in the country, he was ranked number two most of the year, and we won three events,” Dunphy said, noting his team plays a combined Division 1 and 2 schedule.
“We won our conference for the first time and we had six of the top 10 teams in the country, in our conference.”
Winning the conference advanced the team to the nationals which were held in Silvis, Illinois, at TPC Deere Run which is a stop on the PGA Tour (John Deere Classic).
Dunphy played a key role in helping the Sand Sharks advance to the nationals with a sixth-place finish at the TSC championship. His best finish on the year was third at the Invitation at Savannah Harbor, a Division 1 tournament he lead going into the back-nine of the last round.
“I played under par there; stumbled a bit coming in, but I had a couple of top-six finishes, played in the final group the last two rounds at conference … it was a good experience,” he said of his season overall, noting he dropped his scoring average “quite a bit” during the last semester.
As for what he attributes his improved play to, Dunphy, who teed-off for each tournament the Sand Sharks took part in this past season, talked about experience and game-planning.
“I’ve realized I don’t have to hit it as far; just get it in play, be patient,” he said.
“I was able to play with a lot of really good players this semester and you can just tell the way they methodically play the golf course; you don’t always have to have your best stuff to go out and shoot 69, 70; you have to learn how to do it.”
Adding this knowledge has allowed Dunphy to turn what he once considered to be the weakest part of his game - driving - into a real strength.
“I’ve been hitting more fairways now,” he said. “I’m not the longest hitter – probably 290 [yards, on average], but I’m staying on the fairways. So when you do that, it all comes down to making a couple of putts; and when you start seeing those go in [that leads to success].”
Dunphy talked about different preferences for golfers when it comes to practicing, noting he is more of a “feel” player, as opposed to some of his teammates who are constantly on the driving range.
“Everyone has their own way of practicing,” he said. “I mean I’ll warm-up [on the range], but I get more of a feel for it by playing. And when I’m playing well, I try not to change anything. I’ll hit balls the odd time when I’m just trying to tweak something.
“You have to stay away from trying to search, find something, when it’s there the whole time.”
As for his time in the classroom, Dunphy said he is taking biology and that he has set-up a schedule where his senior year isn’t as demanding.
“I have, pretty much, all my lab work done on the pre-requisites, so it’s a little lighter load next semester,” he said, noting he’ll be returning to Beaufort around mid-August.
“I have one more year left; hopefully I can improve on this semester,” Dunphy said. “I’ll definitely set some goals for next year.”