The golfers on the Air Force Academy team know their schedule is going to be full each day, and they don’t seem to mind.
In fact, they embrace just how busy each day will be.
Air Force head coach George Koury said his players rise at 6:30 a.m. each day and are back in their rooms at 8 p.m. for the day. In between, their schedules are filled with academics and athletics, just like student-athletes at other schools. But they have the added responsibilities of their military commitments.
“On a daily basis, everything they face is designed to make them leaders in the Air Force and whatever they go into when they’re finished with their Air Force commitment,” Koury said. “Our pool of candidates is much smaller than most of the other schools. The young men we choose have to want to be part of something bigger than a golf team and a university. They have to be mentally tough with everything they take on.”
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Robert Belz says that is expected. Belz, a senior who will head into pilot training after this year, and his teammates are taking part in the Brickyard Collegiate Championship at the Brickyard at Riverside for the first time.
The three-round tournament begins Friday.
“The best thing that comes out of everything we go through is that we appreciate the opportunity to do things like this, to get to travel to tournaments like this with our teammates and coaches,” Belz said. “The most important thing is balancing our time between golf, academics and our military responsibilities. My dad always says, ‘If you want something done, give it to a busy person,’ and that’s true with us.
“We stay busy, but we enjoy that.”
Belz said the Air Force team is a tight-knit group that is brought together by everything the Academy’s cadets face.
“We have to be close because of everything we go through together,” Belz said. “We can all relate to one another and what we’re going through. The older guys know what the younger guys are going through because we’ve been there. When I was younger, I was a sponge for the older guys to try to learn from them, and now I’m trying to do the same for the guys who are younger than me.”
One of the young players on this year’s team is Kyle Westmoreland. He is a sophomore this season.
“When we get out on the golf course, it’s kind of like a refuge for us,” he said. “The structure of everything we do at the Academy helps us out on the course. We’re definitely close because we spend the majority of our time together, and that helps us become a better team.”
It’s a team Koury said he enjoys coaching. He is in his 10th season as the team’s head coach.
“This is a fun group to be around; they are the top of the heap, for sure,” he said. “They have a strong understanding of where golf and athletics fit into the grand scheme of things because of everything they face each day and all the responsibilities they have.”