Had life gone according to plan, Broc Everett might not be the NCAA National Champion.
On Monday, Everett won the individual 2018 NCAA National Championship with a 15-foot birdie on the first playoff hole at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
But as a freshman back in 2013, Everett, a four-sport athletic prodigy from West Des Moines, Iowa, who was so good at so many things that he was never able to build a killer golf resume, hoped to hit the course running, so to speak. But newly-hired head men’s golf coach Jack O’Keefe had to sit him down for a difficult conversation.
“Broc came in on a Presidential scholarship, which basically means you’re getting your scholarship on the academic side of things,” O’Keefe says. “He didn’t play well in the fall, but showed some signs of promise in the spring; however, our compliance director told me that if he played, we’d be over our limit on scholarships.”
Even though it was an academic scholarship, Everett’s Presidential scholarship would count against the equivalency of the four and a half athletic scholarships O’Keefe had to work with.
The only answer was redshirting his freshman year, meaning he could practice with the team but it wouldn’t count against his eligibility. It would, however, add a year to his college career.
“I told him you’ll be better as a 23-year-old fifth-year senior than you will be a 19-year-old true freshman,” he remembers.
For Everett, that was a blow, and not just because of his competitive nature. His plan was to graduate in three or three and a half years. Now, his coach was telling him it would take him five years.
“He didn’t really want to do it,” O’Keefe says. “But then we said, ‘If you redshirt, we can pay for grad school,’ and he was like, okay.”
And that’s something easily lost in the hullabaloo of his individual national championship — in his five years at Augusta University, Broc Everett earned his accounting degree and his MBA.
That kind of across-the-board success runs in the family. His older brother Van, a lawyer in the Des Moines area, won the national championship for mock trials, coincidentally also in Oklahoma.
“When we drove home from the golf course [after winning the national championship], Broc called his brother and said, ‘Man — Oklahoma has been pretty good to us,’” O’Keefe says.
Oklahoma — particularly Karsten Creek Golf Club — has been pretty good to Augusta’s golf program, too. The men’s team finished 29th this year, the first time the Jaguars had been back since winning the championship in 2011 and solidifying themselves as one of the premier golf programs in the nation.
“Before this, we were going off of [2018 Masters champion and Augusta alum] Patrick Reed, and before that we were going off the two national championships,” O’Keefe says. “And we gained a little momentum for our current team by advancing from the regionals to the nationals with a young team. But to have that individual championship — the first time in school history — is icing on the cake.”
Augusta is the first university to ever have the Masters champion and the NCAA national champion in the same year.
When it comes to recruiting, the win and the exposure have been huge. All weekend, every prospective team member along with most golf fans were inundated with university branding and talk of Augusta’s tradition of success.
“The Golf Channel’s Morning Drive started the day with pictures from the 2010-11 team, zoomed in on Patrick Reed, then went to a live shot of him on the driving range at Muirfield Village, and then they went ‘Coming up, Champion’s Chat with Broc Everett,’” says Taylor Lamb, director of athletic media relations. “We were just all over the coverage.”
“It put Augusta in a lot of places on that TV,” O’Keefe agrees. “It’s great for recruiting, it’s great for our golf program and it’s great for other kids to see.” And, truth be told, it’s all a little surprising, considering the way Everett started his career.
“He was always a good putter, so he kind of disguised a few things by being able to putt and chip well, but he was so inconsistent,” O’Keefe says. “He would shoot 78 or 79 and then he’d shoot 71.”
However, he displayed a solid work ethic and a desire to seek advice. He started working on his swing during his sophomore year, then embraced a course management philosophy that helped him develop into a very strategic, calculating player. In 2017 he ranked as high as 24 and according to O’Keefe should have been named an All-American, a title he did earn this year.
“A lot of kids pick an aggressive target and make a tentative swing,” O’Keefe says. “He takes a conservative target and makes an aggressive swing.”
Allowing himself a larger margin of error combined with greatly improving his wedge play brought a consistency to his game that has helped harness his emotions.
“He had a plan on every shot in this tournament,” says O’Keefe, who walked with him the entire 73 holes. “He never went to sleep or found himself unprepared for the next shot. He had the discipline to do that and the game plan to execute it.”
And that discipline and consistency were reflected in the scoreboard as Everett shot 70 in each of the first three days and 71 on the final round.
That foundation, O’Keefe says, will serve him well as a pro.
“I think he has a great future because he’s done it the right way,” he says. “He’s got everything in place, he’s got a good head on his shoulders and Number One — he’s got a plan.”
Besides that, he’s just a good guy.
“Sometimes coaches move on and they forget about a player on a team, but I think he stands out because of the person he is — not the story, just the person,” says assistant coach JP van der Walt. “I think if you work with a guy like that once every four years, you’re going to be really happy as a coach.”
“Here, you have a guy who started from nowhere, was overlooked, given a chance here and didn’t quite get going,” he says. “But once he did, he just got better every year.”