Marquette Men’s Golf: Bailey building men, not just golfers

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Golf head coach, Steve Bailey prepares for a round of golf. Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Since starting his tenure as Marquette’s golf coach last fall, Steve Bailey has tried to build a team culture extending far beyond the 18th hole.

“The biggest thing we are trying to develop here is building character as not only golfers but young men,” Bailey said. “I want them to know that there’s so much more to life than the golf bubble they’re in.”

Bailey is a firm believer in what he calls the six core values: perspective, character, preparation, commitment, perseverance and service. According to Bailey, these values must be exercised to their fullest extent every day in order for them to impact each player’s life on and off the course.

Bailey stresses keeping things in perspective so that no matter how difficult things get on the golf course, his players remember the fortunate position they’re in.

“To play college golf is a privilege and we always have our guys remind themselves of that,” Bailey said. “They have to always remember that they are representing Marquette University, and it’s an honor to play for this team. There’s a lot more to it than just birdies and bogeys.”

The service Bailey requires of his players heavily reflects the team’s culture. Rather than choosing a set-in-stone organization to work with each year, he keeps his players involved by allowing them to make their own choices.

“Each player has a month of the year that they are responsible for a volunteer activity,” Bailey said. “We want the guys to go out and take ownership of whatever is in their heart and have the rest of the team show up to support it.”

Senior Matt Haase based the first of these service outings in 2011 on his love for the outdoors by having the team pull weeds and remove a drainage pipe at the Hawthorn Glen Outdoor Education Center. Haase said Bailey’s implementation of these core values through projects has helped set Bailey apart from other golf coaches that he had played under.

“He’s much more organized and in tune with his players’ needs and their lives,” Haase said. “He really cares about us as people and not just our golf games.”

Assistant coach David Merkow, who played for Bailey at Northwestern, has noticed the consistencies between the culture he created there and the one he is still building at Marquette.

“We are absolutely on the same page, and that’s what lets us have such a great working relationship,” Merkow said. “So much of what we’re trying to get our players to do is be their own coaches, both specifically with their golf game, much like Steve (Bailey) taught me to do and also be good examples for them to base their lives on.”

Though it is far from easy for a sport like golf to gain significant face time on a basketball-crazy campus, Bailey believes that through the same perseverance he has preached from the start will help the program gain a more prominent place on campus.

“We’re not filling 19,000 seats for our golf tournaments, and we don’t play an event on campus or host a local event so it’s tough to become as known,” Bailey said. “If we continue to put in the hard work, though, then our guys will get the recognition they deserve.”