Campus News 2011Courtesy of The Kerrville Daily Times
Original Publication: June 27, 2011
By Joe Harrington, Daily Times Sports Editor
Photo by Tom Holden, Daily Times Photo Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Building up at SU
Golf program is on the upswing at Schreiner University
Whatever it's called, Ron Macosko was already well adept at taking a struggling men's golf program with a small budget and turning it into a successful group when he arrived at Schreiner University in 2005.
Schreiner University athletic director and golf coach
Ron Macosko on the grounds of Schreiner University.
At Concord University in West Virginia, Macosko improved the team each season he was there, 1999-2002, and coached them into the NCAA Tournament. He turned the program around in just one year, and he did it with a smart squad that finished in the top two every season in GPA when he was the coach.
But the Mountaineer program was bad in 2005. Toiling in the bottom of the American Southwest Conference, Schreiner Golf consisted of just a handful of players, no women's team and just one All-ASC player in recent history, a second team selection in 2003, to brag about.
Now, six years later - six years of working to improve all the sports in the program - Macosko's labors are starting to pay off on the greens.
While Macosko coached college golf, his wife Anna was a regular on the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour. Anna Acker-Macosko was an All-American player at South Florida before going professional in 1992. In 13 years on the tour, Acker-Macosko won the first tournament she played as a pro and had several impressive finishes. Her highlight came in 2004, when she shot a 60 at an event, the second lowest round in LPGA history.
When Ron and Anna had a son, Ben, in 2001, Ron quit his job as the coach at Concord University and became a caddie for his wife.
"When she wanted to go back on tour with a newborn ... on the women's side, it's not like the men's where you have nannies and everything," Ron Macosko said. "On the women's tour, you've got to be mom and player. The only way she could do that was if I quit my job and I went out and caddied for her for four years as Ben was growing up."
When he came back to coaching, Ron Macosko took over not just a team, but the whole sports department.
And the golf team wasn't very good.
"We were at the bottom of the conference," he said. "We weren't very competitive. We had four guys. It was not a very good situation."
Former Schreiner player and current Our Lady of the Hills coach and teacher, Matt Casey, said the pressure on the four players weighed heavily.
The previous coach was juggling his coaching and family responsibility, so the Macoskos decided to take over the program.
And then they blew it up.
"We started the women's program and basically restarted the men's program," Ron Macosko said. "What we ended up doing was saying, ‘We're going to go with a bunch of new guys, freshmen, and start it all over."
The decision was made in February, putting the squad a step behind the following spring season, but allowing the new coaches to set roots in the area with local high school coaches.
"Ron took over the last semester I played," said Casey, who left the team to focus on academics following the 2006 spring season. "Ron came in and gave us a ‘We can take this tournament,' (mindset)."
In the first year that the women's program was allowed to play in ASC competition, the squad finished second at the conference tournament. The following year, the women's team finished No. 14 nationally at the Division III NCAA Tournament.
Gabby Rosales was not only an All-ASC player in 2011, but also the first SU golfer to earn National Golf Coaches Association All-Region honors.
A slew of All-ASC selections have fallen on players during the past three seasons, and Rob and Ann Macosko were named ASC Coaches of the Year in 2010. And, like many Schreiner teams, they've done it with one of the best team GPAs in the conference.
"Both programs have come a long, long way," Ron Macosko said. "The women's program has come further, faster - because we started from nothing."
The fact that Anna Acker-Macosko is who she is has had a large impact on the success of the team, Ron Macosko said.
"Quite honestly, a lot of it has to do with Anna," he said. "The fact that we've got a former tour player who is a coach, is something very, very few programs, at this level, have to offer. ... You get a unique level of experience that you just don't find at very many places when you have someone who has competed at the highest level against the best in the world."
Meanwhile, the men's team has seen steady improvement. This year, the Mountaineers finished third in the ASC as Jay Chapman received All-ASC honors, while Andy Bell received All-ASC Southwest honors this season.
The approach is key. The Macoskos don't coach golf like many of their peers. Instead of focusing on individuals, the tandem have a team-centric method - which Macosko likened to basketball - that sets them apart.
"What we think we've really got going for us is that we have really good chemistry on our teams, both teams," Ron Macosko said. "We have a really close bond. We're very much a true team. We're very much different than what you see in other golf programs."
Where are they going?
The Schreiner women's team didn't win the conference tournament this year, and neither did the boys.
However, it wasn't because they necessarily struggled. The women's team finished with a higher national ranking than in 2010, but were stuck behind two dominant teams in their conference.
The men's group struggled in tournaments, but much of that can be pointed to depth. With seven players, two of which were upperclassmen, the team has had success with what they have.
With Ron's AD responsibilities and Anna's club professional responsibilities at The Club at Comanche Trace, depth and team size is the one drawback with the Mountaineers' program.
"We don't have as much time, and that's what it takes on the recruiting side," Ron Macosko said. "It takes a lot of time to build and to have that depth."
Even with the depth issues, the Macoskos have built a golf program that is gaining national exposure and a lot of confidence.
"Our view on all our programs, not just our golf programs, is, ‘Hey, there's national championships and every year there's no name on it. Why can't it be us," Ron Macosko said. "We really believe we can have a program here that can win national championships."
Macosko likened his program to the dominant Methodist University, which has won 14 straight Division III national championships in women's golf.
"They don't have anything we don't have," he said. "It's just a question of they have history. I don't see any reason why we couldn't have that program."