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August 14, 2013

Robertson ready to tee off on building Tech women's golf program

By: Jimmy Robertson

Carol Green Robertson is the first women’s golf coach
at Tech and thinks the renowned Pete Dye River Course
(above) will be a huge recruiting tool for her going forward.

In June, Carol Green Robertson gave birth to her first child.

In July, she was tasked with guiding the Tech women’s golf program from its infancy as well.

Robertson became the first women’s golf coach at Tech after AD Jim Weaver announced her hiring on July 8. The hiring came less than a month after Weaver announced the addition of women’s golf to the slate of varsity sports at the university.

Robertson came to Tech from Old Dominion, where she had served as the head coach for the past two seasons. While with the Monarchs, she led her teams to five tournament titles in her two seasons, including three tournament titles this past season.

Prior to that, she served as an assistant for both the men’s and women’s programs at ODU. She also worked as an assistant at James Madison, her alma mater, for a season.

Despite having and raising a child – a son named JJ – and all the wonderful, but craziness, that entails, she and her husband, Jason, never gave her application for the Tech coaching position a second thought.

“I didn’t hesitate at all,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for this program to start even when I was wanting to play college golf. Whether I wanted to play there or coach there [at Tech], I was waiting for this program to start.

“The easy, convenient thing would have been to stay here [at ODU], but I wanted the challenge. If it weren’t for the baby, the decision would have been easier, but only because things are more difficult when you’re trying to move with a baby or pack a house with a baby. But those are stupid reasons to give up my dream job that I’ve wanted for the past 10 years.”

Robertson certainly knows a lot about Tech. She grew up in Tazewell, Va., roughly a 90-minute drive from Blacksburg, and has been to football and basketball games at Tech. Also, her younger brother, Garland, played golf at Tech from 2007-11.

She grew up in a golfing family. Her father, Charles, is a past president of the Virginia State Golf Association [VSGA] and, her older brother, Chuck, played collegiately at Washington and Lee.

“I honestly didn’t have the desire to play until I was 15 years old,” she said. “But my brother was playing and my dad was playing, and if I wanted to see my dad or my brother, I had to play golf. So I picked up a club. I knew everything about the game. I just wasn’t out there playing it. But I picked it up pretty fast and luckily got a scholarship by the time I was 18. I never looked back.”

In many ways, Robertson is the perfect candidate to lead the Tech program. In addition to having coaching experience, she possesses the playing chops to go with that. At JMU, she received the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year Award on two occasions (2003 and 2004) and earned first-team All-CAA honors on three occasions. In 2003, she won medalist honors at the conference championship.

Following her playing days at JMU, she worked as an assistant at the school before trying her hand in the professional ranks. She played on the LPGA Future’s Tour from 2007-09.

Life on the road, though, got old quickly, and remembering the impact her coaches had on her both in high school and college, she decided to pursue coaching full time.

“I wanted to take all the best things I liked about those coaches and be one myself,” she said. “I’m so happy that I did it [played on the Futures Tour] and learned so much from it, but living on the road for that many days, I didn’t want to do it for the rest of my life. Then I still wanted to be involved in it [golf] and have an impact on young ladies’ lives.

“I know how influential my coaches were for me, and I want to be that person and I know I can be a good one. It’s such a fulfilling job when the girls turn out so wonderful, whether they win a tournament or get that job they want. Just to know that you were a small piece in how that plan worked out is so fulfilling.”

Now, she gets to build a program from scratch. In most circumstances, that would be a daunting task, and for sure, a lot of work needs to be done. But Tech certainly has resources in place for her.

For starters, the Tech practice facility at the Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech contains a locker room for the women’s team, and incoming women’s players get to share the practice facility with the men’s team. Of course, they also get to share the golf course with the men’s team, a course that ranks among the top 10 college courses in the nation.

“It’s a little piece of heaven out there,” said Robertson, who has played the course several times. “It’s just gorgeous. Virginia Tech can offer it all. Yes, the weather can contain me a little [in recruiting], but that course has so many set-ups and so many tee options. You could play it every day of the year, and it wouldn’t feel like it because you’ve got so many options. They keep it immaculate, and it should be impressive to any recruit. To the eye, to see the river and the trees and how green it is, it’s engaging, for sure.”

Robertson also has the advantage of time. She gets a year to recruit, and then those recruits will spend the 2014-15 season redshirting, while working on their games. In 2015, Tech begins competition.

She started recruiting the day she took the job and already has received an oral commitment from a player for the 2014-15 academic year. She knows exactly what she wants in a recruit.

“Just athleticism,” she said. “I like to look at a girl and think, ‘If I handed her a basketball or a baseball, or heck, even a hockey puck, would she be good at it?’ That’s when you know they are real athletes. You can look at them and tell that golf is one game they’d be good at.

“It’s great to watch somebody shoot 5-under-par, but it’s also great to watch them struggle and see how they handle it and see if, on their bad days, they can shoot a good score. It’s a game of misses. Everyone is good on their best day, but how good are you on your bad day? That’s when you find a good recruit – when they’re good on their bad day.”

Robertson also has talked with coaches at other programs in the ACC. Virginia added women’s golf roughly a decade ago, and Clemson begins competition in women’s golf this fall after adding it as a varsity sport in 2011. The people at those schools gave her some insight on how to move forward.

For the time being, moving forward consists of moving out of Norfolk and getting settled in Blacksburg, with her husband and child. Raising a child, while wonderful, can be hectic. Doing so while moving presents even more of a challenge.

But Robertson isn’t complaining.

“It’s been an amazing year,” she said. “We’re so blessed with a new baby and a new job and the fact that Virginia Tech wants me and wants my family to be there. It’s so amazing.

“Sometimes, I lay in bed at night and think, ‘Wow, how are all these nice things happening to me?’ I’m not complaining. This is wonderful. It’s been a great year, and I think it’s going to be a great year, year in and year out, when we get there.”