Playing collegiate sports doesn't allow for much time to do other things besides study and practice. Hobbies and interests have to be put on the back burner if the athlete wants to compete at the highest levels. For Texas senior golfer Shaun Goodwin, that means hunting, fishing and working on his jeep will have to wait for another day.
"I've got a 1984 Jeep CJ7," said the lone fourth-year player out of Houston. "It's pretty bad looking. The last thing I got to do on it was put some fuel injectors in the engine, but I haven't had too much time to do anything else to it."
That is because Goodwin has been busy putting together the best golfing stretch in his collegiate career. In his last three tournaments, Goodwin is a combined three-under-par, which includes a second-place finish at the Morris Williams Intercollegiate. He also placed 15th and 16th in the two tournaments prior to his performance at the Morris Williams and he is looking to keep it going as his Texas career comes to a close. But, it has been a long journey for him to get to this point.
"The summer after my senior year of high school is when things really started to come together for me," explained Goodwin. "I won the Texas-Oklahoma Junior Golf Championship, which got me into some of the major AJGA junior tournaments. I ended up signing with Sam Houston State, because it was a place where I could play and develop and it was close to home."
He built off the summer success while at Sam Houston, where he earned second-team All-Southland Conference honors after finishing the year with four top 10 showings. At the same time, Goodwin was trying to figure out what his future held. He had entered Sam Houston with the idea that he would transfer to a more prominent program after his second year.
"I didn't have any set place I wanted to go to," said Goodwin. "I just wanted to go to a place that had solid opportunities and consistently played in good tournaments."
Things started falling into place after the fall semester of Goodwin's sophomore year. He sent his release to Texas' head coach John Fields in the hopes that Texas would become an option. The timing worked out as there was a space on the team for him and coach Fields thought he could be a contributor.
"We knew he was a really good player," said Fields. "He had been playing well at Sam Houston, but he wanted some bigger challenges, which is exactly what he got when he came here, both on the golf course and academically."
It was a tough transition for Goodwin. He was trying to get comfortable on a team full of excellent players, while still maturing as a person and a player. But, thanks to a conversation he had with the Texas coaching staff, Goodwin has gone from the guy who transferred from Sam Houston State to one of the important cogs in coach Fields' lineup as the Longhorns move towards the postseason.
"We basically told him that he had five months or about 150 days left in his career at Texas and asked him what he was going to do," said Fields.
What Goodwin did was get to work. He spent a lot of time with his teacher in Houston over the winter break working on his game. In addition to improving the technical aspects of his game, Goodwin adjusted his mental approach as well.
"When you are a golfer at Texas, there is a certain responsibility that comes along with it," explained Fields. "Shaun struggled with that from time to time, but he began to make certain sacrifices that have allowed his game to improve. Now, we are counting on him."
Goodwin's mother, Nancy, has also seen a change.
"The tournament at Redstone (Hall of Fame Invitational, March 18-20) was the first time I had seen him play in almost a year and a half," said Nancy. "I was taken aback by his approach. In the past, he would let bad holes bother him and he would try and make up for it on the next hole. Now, he seems to have a new approach. I can tell that he is more sure of himself."
Which is exactly the thing Goodwin credits for his recent success.
"In the first couple of tournaments I played here, I just wanted to help the team and make coach happy," explained Goodwin. "But, I think it was Tiger Woods who said, 'if you show up at a tournament and you don't think you can win, you're wasting your time.'"
So, Goodwin has started to play with the confidence that he can play with anyone. He's not just looking to put up one good number over the course of a tournament. He is trying to win, which will in turn, help Texas' team score.
This new level of success has Goodwin eyeing a professional career in golf. He'll continue to work the way he has and as his teacher tells him, the payoff will be down the road. Unfortunately, that means that his prized Jeep will probably remain neglected because the only maintenance Goodwin will be focused on is the upkeep of his golf swing.