Webster’s new golf coach plans to use what he learned from being a pro golfer to help better the team.
An Australian native, Bradley Smith earned many titles in the golf world, including: a national champion accolade and stats as a professional golfer in the Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA) tours.
However, for the first in his life, Smith will sit in the role of a collegiate golf coach rather than an athlete.
Smith became involved in golf as early as 1996, when he was in seventh grade. In 2001, he was selected for the All-Australian High School team.
Later on, Smith moved across the world to compete for Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa. There, he earned two All-American selections and became a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national champion in 2006. After this, Smith went to compete for a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I school at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. While at UAB, he became the school’s first ever Conference USA Newcomer of the year for men’s golf.
In 2008, Smith turned professional and earned the chance to play all over the world. He competed in the Australian PGA Tour and in Thailand for the Asain Tour, as well as various events for the European Tour.
“I played professional golf for nearly 10 years,” Smith said. “That holds me at a good standard to be able to teach the game at a pretty high level.”
Smith did coach golf at a country club previous to Webster, but he said there are different aspects to coaching a college team. According to Smith, while coaching a college team, he has to also play the manager role. He has to manage travel and budget for the team, which is something he had to do for himself when he was playing professionally.
Athletic Director Scott Kilgallon said he was not only impressed with Smith’s pedigree as a golfer, but also with his commitment to giving the best experience to Webster’s golf team.
“He was incredibly personal and we could tell he would relate to the players,” Kilgallon said. “That is important, especially in golf where it is a different type of sport and there is a lot of one-on-one. He was also excited to be here. In any candidate [for a new coach], we want to make sure this is the destination for them and they are excited to be a part of Webster.”
Smith will be the team’s third coach following the initial resignation of Andrew Belsky. Belsky coached at Webster for 17 seasons before his resignation in the spring of 2020. In the fall of 2020, alum Matt Gordon took over as interim head coach.
“He’s probably one of the best coaches in Division III for sure, if not all of college golf.” -Cody Surma, Junior
Cody Surma, a junior at Webster, said it was difficult at first when Belsky resigned but having Matt Gordon step in really helped.
“[Gordon] was a good guy and he meshed really well with our team,” Surma said. “It was a little hectic when he came in because the season had just started and we were still trying to figure things out as far as schedules and competition.”
According to Surma, now having Smith as a coach is like having a professional golf instructor with them every day. Surma said the team is really lucky to have Smith as a coach.
On normal practice days, the team will spend around two or three hours on the putting green and occasionally head down to the chipping green to work on different shots. The team will also work on various drills which Smith gives them to help better their game.
“He’s taken all of these drills out of tour pro books, so he is getting most of his information from professionals like Tiger Woods and any of the big pros that he has played with and been around,” Surma said. “We basically have the best information possible. He’s probably one of the best coaches in Division III for sure, if not all of college golf.”
Smith said he believes his playing past has helped the transition to a new coach a lot for the guys on the team. According to him, since a lot of the advice is not only coming from his own experiences in golf, but is also coming from the numerous professional golfers he has played with over the years, the team has had an easier time trusting him as a coach.
Another aspect of the sport which Smith admired as a professional was traveling the world. He said having the chance to travel to different countries really opened his eyes to how fortunate we are compared to other countries.
“The things we complain about are pretty trivial when you see some of the situations some people live through in other parts of the world that aren’t as fortunate as we are,” Smith said. “I will teach that message to our guys sometimes when we are out there complaining about how the greens aren’t perfect. If the worst thing you are worried about is bad golf greens, then you have a pretty good life.”
After his professional golfing career came to a halt, Smith and his friend, Jeff Coppaken, founded FLYT golf. Through FLYT golf, Smith was able to launch his patent pending “FLYT Sleeve.”
Smith said he invented the FLYT Sleeve as a short game training aid for golfers. According to Smith, the inspiration for the sleeve came from the Australian professional golfer Jason Day. He said the sleeve helps golfers create a more stable club face and helps you rotate your body instead of using your arms when chipping and pitching.
According to Smith, he incorporated the FLYT sleeve into the team’s training as well. Surma said they use Smith’s product a lot at practice. He believes FLYT Golf is going to blow up in the golf community.
“It is honestly a cheat code,” Surma said. “It’s really beneficial for all of us in practice. With the sleeve, it is really easy to have a perfect chip everytime.”
Surma and the team said they are excited to have a guy like Smith take over the team. He described Smith as really laid back and one of the nicest guys he has ever met.
Kilgallon said he can see Smith improving the entire team including the defending NCAA DIII National Champion, Will Hocker.
“We wanted to find someone who would challenge the team so they could become better golfers,” Kilgallon said. “I wanted a coach with clear goals that can hold the team accountable and wants the student athletes to get better and I truly believe [Smith] wants that.”