As Dawson Anders walked off the green on the 18th hole of a June tournament after drilling a 40-foot birdie putt, a hint of optimism was gleaned about his future.
The putt qualified him for the match play portion of the Golf Association of Philadelphia Junior Boys’ Championship, which he eventually won.
Fast forward three months and Anders is now a freshman and looking forward to a new season with Temple’s golf team. After a last-place showing in the American Athletic Conference championship to end the 2016-17 season, the young team has worked to learn from last year’s mistakes.
Coach Brian Quinn said junior Trey Wren and redshirt junior John Barone have become leaders, “sharing their knowledge and their positive attitudes with the younger guys.”
Temple’s starting five of Anders, Barone, Wren, and juniors Sam Soeth and Gary McCabe played in the season’s first event this past weekend. The Owls won the Cornell Invitational on Saturday and Sunday in Ithaca, New York. Temple placed eighth at the event last year.
“This is without a doubt in my career, my most talented team,” Quinn said. “[On Sunday] they finished like champions.”
The Owls have a combined eight freshmen, sophomores and redshirt sophomores out of 14 golfers. Anders, one of Temple’s three freshmen, concentrated mainly on staying even-keeled on the course this summer.
Anders is making the transition from high school to college golf, but he doesn’t have to become accustomed to the expectations of a new coach. Quinn, who is in his 11th season coaching the program, is Anders’ year-round instructor at his academy in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.
“He is an excellent swing coach,” Anders said. “He has really helped me elevate my game to where I want it to be, and he’s gonna help me get even better from here.”
From 2012-16, Quinn coached Brandon Matthews, Temple’s first All-American since 1988, who won a PGA Tour Latinoamérica event in March. But Quinn said Anders is “my best on-paper recruit that I’ve ever had.” He also called Anders “one of the most dominant juniors in Pennsylvania in the past three to four years.”
Anders also knew sophomore Marty McGuckin from previous competition. McGuckin and Anders played against each other at the GAP Junior Boys tournament in 2016. McGuckin, who “beat me good,” Anders said, inspired him to come to Temple and work hard. The two now live together in Morgan Hall, Anders said.
McGuckin also had a notable summer on the course. He competed at the Jay Sigel Match Play at the Country Club of Scranton with playing partner Sean Knapp.
Knapp had just won the United States Senior Amateur a few weeks back. After seeing that caliber of player beat him, McGuckin said he was reminded of the level of play he needs to maintain going into the season.
McGuckin’s finished tied for 25th at the Golf Association of Philadelphia Open later that July, firing off rounds of 70 and 77. He played as an individual on Saturday and Sunday in Ithaca, New York and tied for 10th.
“You can’t play mediocre golf and win matches, especially in those kinds of tournaments,” McGuckin said. “You have to play your A-game to win. Even though I had my best stuff, [Knapp] beat me.”
“I was very proud of the way Marty played this summer,” Quinn said. “He is going to be an integral part of our program for the next three years.”
His team may be young, but Quinn feels it has carried over a lot of experience from last season.
“If the coach does his job, we should be right on course,” Quinn said. “We have the talent. I don’t know what place we are gonna finish in and I don’t know where we’re gonna be at the conference championship, but I know this, we aren’t afraid to play anymore.”