He was supposed to be a Runnin’ Rebel in the Nevada desert, but Adam Svensson is happy to have wound up a Buccaneer in South Florida.
South Surrey’s Svensson, 19, thought he had his future mapped out when he graduated from Earl Marriott Secondary in 2012 with a golf scholarship in his pocket from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. When his final high school transcript arrived, however, Svensson was forced to make other plans. It was then that he discovered the electives he chose to take in high school did nothing to help his SAT scores, forcing Svensson to make the difference in online courses last fall.
By the time he had finished his upgrading, the UNLV offer was off the table and Svensson had to find a new university home in time to start classes in January. That turned out to be tiny Barry University, a Miami-area school that boasts one of the top university golf programs among NCAA Division II schools.
“I’m glad I ended up at Barry; it’s a good place for me,” Svensson said. “UNLV would have been a lot of fun too, but I’m happy where I am. It’s kind of like a small family. All the guys on the golf team get along and we won a national championship so that was pretty cool.”
Needless to say, the transition from to university in a large U.S. city was not an easy one. In addition to learning how to manage his own affairs and get the hang of university-level academics, Svensson had the added challenge of fitting into a campus community as a newcomer midway through the school year.
“I was all by myself there, but I’m kind of used to that because I’ve been travelling to tournaments on my own for a couple of years now,” he said. “Being on the Canadian Development Team helped a lot because they taught me how to handle things that come up when you travel. They taught me how to prepare, what to look for on the golf course, what to bring with me when I travel — things like that.”
Fortunately for Svensson, he figured out the non-golf issues in the first month and was ready to go when the golf season began in late January.
Svensson chose Barry because of its golf program and the Buccaneers of the link did not disappoint. Under head coach Jimmy Stobs, the Barry golfers have become a powerhouse among NCAA Div. II schools.
Thanks to technology, Svensson was able to maintain contact with Vancouver-area golf coach Rob Houlding for instructions on his swing. For the rest of his game, he relied on the resident master chipping and putting.
“Our coach (Stobs) is the best short game player I’ve ever seen in my life and he taught me a lot about that,” Svensson said. “He’s always on me about practising my putting and chipping. He’s really good at the short game and that’s something I really need to work on. He’s helped me a lot and I can really see improvement in my short game this summer.”
The Barry golf program offers its members plenty of competition even when the players aren’t decked out in school colours for tournaments.
With 13 guys on the team and only five spots open for tournament play, the Barry golfers have to qualify to represent the school. At the beginning of the year, the team plays eight rounds with the top five scorers earning the right to represent the school in the next three tournaments. This is repeated after every third tournament for the remainder of the golf season. The only way to avoid qualifying is to finish in the Top 10 in a tournament.
Svensson used this loophole to his advantage in his freshman season, winning the first qualifying tournament and then placing in the top 10 of all eight tournaments during the season.
The only time he did not crack the Top 10 was in the NCAA Div. II national championship in Pennsylvania where he placed 12th. At the national championship finale, Svensson was awarded the Phil Mickelson Award as the top freshman in NCAA Div. II golf and was named to the All-American team. Barry won the NCAA Div. II national title and Svensson set a new Buccaneers record as the only golfer in school history to post a season stroke average under par (71.26).
“I knew I was in the running for it but there are other good golfers out there too,” he said of the Mickelson Award. “When they announced my name I was really happy to win it. I didn’t really know a lot about the award and probably didn’t realize how important it was until my buddies on the golf team told me it was an important award to win. It’s very cool to win it and I was pretty stoked about it.”
When he returned to the West Coast, Svensson’s golf game did not cool off. He won the Vancouver Open amateur and forced a playoff before winding up second at the B.C. men’s amateur championship. Svensson then placed fourth at the prestigious Sahalee Players Championship, a result that moved him 30 places up the world amateur rankings into 98th.
Earlier this month, Svensson posted the lowest score in the final round at the Canadian men’s amateur championship event to finish in fifth place overall and third among Canadian golfers entered.
The summer was fun, but now he is itching to get back to business in Miami. He finished last season ranked third overall among NCAA Div. II golfers and 12th among NCAA golfers regardless of division.
“I’m happy with the way I played,” he said. “I played well overall but I made some mental mistakes that I’ll learn from.
“It’s funny — at the end of the school year I had three weeks in Miami where I was kind of by myself with the team. I was kind of sick of Miami by that point and I wanted to get back home. Now I can’t wait to get back to Miami and get going again. I’m excited to get back with the team and start playing again.”
© Copyright 2013