The wins just keep rolling in for former ASGA junior golfers. Nate Jolly got his first collegiate win on Tuesday at the 2021 Gulf Coast Collegiate.
Jolly, a sophomore at the University of Central Arkansas, shot an even par 72 in his first round before shooting a second round 68 to put himself in prime position heading into the final round of the event. The event’s final round was dominated by high winds and heavy rain. After a lengthy delay, the decision was made to call off the event and Jolly was crowned champion after leading through the first two days. Jolly talked to us about the chaotic end to the tournament and how he found out he had won.
“I think I was around the green of our 13th or 14th hole when they sent us a text to come back in. Then we were sitting in the ballroom there eating lunch and we all knew we most likely would not go back out because there was steam all in the fairways and the greens we’re all puddled up. Then the coaches had a meeting and the coach came back over, stuck his hand out and told me congratulations that I had just won.” Jolly said.
Jolly started his collegiate career in junior college at Coastal Alabama. He said he struggled early in his career at junior college but says things started to change for him after working with a new swing coach.
“My first semester there was pretty slow. I didn't play all that great then I met my new swing instructor Tony Ruggiero and he changed my game completely around and I had some top 15 finishes in the second semester.”
Jolly’s success late in his freshman year led him to reconnect with UCA Head Coach Steve Runge. Jolly had been very interested in UCA coming out of high school, but said he believed his chances of making the team were slim and decided to go to junior college instead. The following summer he was given a chance to showcase his skills for the Bears head coach. Jolly was invited to play in qualifiers and practice with the team before he ultimately received a call saying he had made the team. Jolly talked to us about his time at UCA so far and how he is now thriving under Runge’s leadership.
“My time at UCA has been good. I've really enjoyed being here and playing for coach Runge. With him being such a great player he has been able to help me with all aspects of the game, so having a coach like that is what I really wanted when I was looking at schools to play for and I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.”
Led by Jolly, the Bears finished 5th as a team at the event in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. A combined score of +24 gave the Bears their highest finish of the season after finishing 6th at the JT Poston Invitational and 7th at the Bubba Barnett Intercollegiate. Jolly and UCA are back in action on March 22nd when they head to Springfield, Missouri for the Twin Oaks Intercollegiate.