This upcoming season will be one of transition for Bret Thompson. For the first time, he will not be on the course with his teammates on the SFU men’s golf team. Instead, he will be serving as student manager and as part of the coaching staff, where he’ll be around to help the team in other capacities.
“I don’t know what it’s like in other sports, but for me, I’m just being the liaison between the team and the coach,” said Thompson on his new role. “I am friends with all the guys on the team and I know how it all runs, so making sure the team atmosphere is good, being there and being supportive, but also being a friend.”
He elaborated on his role, stating, “But mostly for any coach, it’s going to be making [sure] the team has water, snacks. You keep a lot of their rain gear and umbrellas in the carts with a lighter bag. And then obviously if a guy wants help [then] you can stay with him, or if you know a guy is struggling, you can kind of walk with him for a while and make sure you keep him balanced and not let his emotions swing too much.”
Thompson was on the team for four seasons before running out of eligibility. A native of Winnipeg, he grew up playing hockey his “whole life.” Thompson would play golf from May until September, and then play hockey the rest of the months.
“It was a unique opportunity, to be able to play at an NCAA school in Canada,” he said on why he chose to come to SFU. “Also, in terms of funding, it was a lot cheaper than trying to go live in the States where some schools are like $50–60 grand. [And] it’s a better education.”
He didn’t hesitate to mention what his favourite memory was playing with the team.
“My first year, we weren’t a good team,” he explained. “I came and I would talk to other athletes and I’d be like ‘I’m on the golf team,’ and they’d be like, ‘We have a golf team?’
“[My] second year we went to regionals, and that was our goal for the year. We got in, we were prepped, and then we got lucky. We were way behind going into the final round, and only the top six advance to nationals,” he continued. “We played really well in the morning, and we were sitting by the pool in the afternoon thinking that we would go
home tomorrow. And then we look at the leaderboard and
all of a sudden, all these teams start moving up.
“The hardest thing is finding the balance between the schoolwork and the practice.”
“We snuck in by like one or two [strokes]. It was so cool because we never expected that. That was some of the happiest we’ve been as a team for sure.”
Now that his amateur career is over, Thompson hopes to pass some knowledge to new players in his role as student manager.
“The hardest thing is finding the balance between the schoolwork and the practice,” he said on what advice he’d give to new student athletes. “Especially for the guys who move onto residence. It’s kind of completely different when you’re living away from home the first time. A lot of the time you find yourself in a really big social group, and being able to balance social life
and finding enough time to put in all the work you need to for golf [is tough].”
A psychology major, Thompson has two more semesters of classes before he graduates. In terms of next steps, besides helping out with the team, he hopes to turn his golf skills into a professional career. Thompson has already played in a professional tournament earlier this month.
On what it’s like to transition between amateur and professional golf he said,“When you play at an amateur event, all you think about is winning. And it’s tough to win in any tournament, but that’s all you’re focused on.” He continued. But once you get into your pro event, even if you don’t have your best game, you’re still thinking ‘maybe I can grind out a top 10 and get a cheque,’ as opposed to amateur [tournaments] where youdon’t get a reward unless you
win. So I didn’t play my best, but I grinded out 13th place and made 400 bucks. It’s better than nothing.”
Thompson plans to try and make professional golfing work “for the next couple of years.” If that doesn’t work out, he plans on either going back to school for his master’s degree in psychology or
becoming a teaching professional for golf.