Oct. 13, 2016
By Brad Muller | More Features
Being part of the staff for one of the elite men’s golf programs in the country requires some outstanding qualifications. Having a good sense of humor is a good idea, too. First year associate head coach Jake Amos fits the bill on all counts.
“I tell everyone it’s not really like working because it’s so much fun here,” Amos said. “Coach (Bill) McDonald has a wealth of golf knowledge. He is so easy to get along with. We click. I knew it was going to be fun and competitive.
“Working for Coach McDonald excited me because he’s a different kind of head coach. He is well known for developing guys who play for him, and I wanted to see how he did that. He doesn’t always get superstars every year, but he brings them up and makes them better.”
The Gamecocks have reached the NCAA Championships in each of the last four seasons, and made the match play round last year.
A native of Leicester, England, the 29 year old Amos has put together an impressive resume as a player and a coach. He won one national championship as a player and another as an assistant coach at Augusta State University. He later served as an assistant coach at South Florida and Purdue. McDonald watched him play at Augusta State and had seen him at tournaments during his previous coaching stints. When previous assistant coach Alex Hamilton left to become the head coach at South Alabama, McDonald knew who he wanted.
“He was by far my first choice when Alex left,” McDonald said. “With his wife, Dani, being from South Carolina; that certainly helped. I’ve always felt like God has a hand over this program and puts the right people in place. I’ve been blessed with incredible assistant coaches. I really felt like he would be a great fit.”
“I wanted to get a broad spectrum in coaching,” Amos said. “I coached in Florida. I’ve coached in the Midwest. South Carolina is a massive SEC school with a golf tradition. I knew a lot about South Carolina golf because I played against them a lot.”
He wants to win as badly as anyone I’ve been around. I think that’s infectious.
Winning is part of the culture within the program. Having fun is part of it, too. In addition to his wealth of knowledge about the game of golf, McDonald is known for his sense of humor among his student-athletes. Amos was a good fit in that department as well.
“It’s kind of bad because there is no one to slow us down,” Amos laughed. “When I got here, Bill thought it would be funny to convince everyone that I was an English Lord. I think he got a few of the freshmen with it. He told the guys that I have to get things approved through the ‘Royal Media.’ ”
“That goes right in line with me telling the guys when we were in Wisconsin that there were wild badgers attacking golfers,” McDonald chuckled. “I also told them that the prairie dogs at Prairie Dunes in Kansas were nibbling ankles off. So I thought, why not just tell everyone that Jake is a lord and go with it?
“I like to have a good time and not take everything too seriously. I knew he would fit right into that. College golf is a unique environment.”
The fact that the coaching staff gets along like old friends only adds to the family atmosphere around the men’s golf program. Jake and Dani recently celebrated the birth of their first son, and McDonald gladly offered some input on his name.
“I cooked an authentic English roast dinner as best I could the night before he was born,” McDonald said. “I had it down to where they were going to name him ‘Famous,’ after the cookies (Famous Amos), or ‘King’ or ‘Lord.’ His wife was nice enough to let him have that middle name.”
“His name is Jensen King Amos,” Amos said proudly. “We’ve had fun with it. Some people call him ‘King,’ and some people call him ‘Jensen.’ ”
Even compliments are handled with humor as McDonald assesses how Amos is fitting in with the student-athletes so far.
“For someone with a royal bloodline, he is relating to the guys fairly well,” McDonald quipped. “They’re somewhat peasants to him, I guess. We’re working through that. But seriously, I think he’s been great. We’re both extremely competitive. He wants to win as badly as anyone I’ve been around. I think that’s infectious.”
That competitiveness is what drives Amos, who admits that making the transition from player to coach wasn’t easy at first.
“Sometimes I saw myself as a player still, and my mind sometimes forgets how hard golf is,” Amos said. “I only remember good shots. I forget how hard it is. You can’t hit every shot like you want to. Bad golf happens. That was the hardest thing in my first year or two in coaching. I realized that I am their biggest cheerleader. I want them to make good shots, but now I tell the guys not to get mad with bad golf. I only get mad with bad decisions.”
While Amos aspires to eventually become a head coach, he is not in a hurry.
“I’ve been pretty lucky so far,” Amos said. “I’m in a great spot now. I’m not in a rush. I know that here, we’ve got everything we need to have chance win. That’s why I came here.”
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