Chris Gotterup’s victory lap includes Tour start in Puerto Rico

March 04, 2022


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Photo courtesy of Oklahoma Athletics

(Editor’s note: AmateurGolf.com and Golfweek have teamed up to cover the amateur game from top to bottom.)

by Julie Williams, Golfweek

Chris Gotterup is a product of his environment, and that has never been more apparent than it is right now.

Unless you come back to Pebble Beach in September.

Gotterup, a fifth-year transfer to Oklahoma, had a streak of under 30 goals in seven rounds of the fall season qualifier at OU Golf Course in Norman, Oklahoma. Then the former Rutgers star headed west to Pebble Beach with his new team for the Carmel Cup season opener. Gotterup, a self-proclaimed soft and non-aggressive player, has spent the week lying down. A visit with head coach Ryan Hybl followed.

“Me and the coach were sitting in his office and we were like, ‘Hey man, you gotta play more aggressive and play to your strengths,'” recalls Gotterup, who made 2 under for 54 holes and tied for 14th “So I kind of re-thought the way I think about playing and that really helped me play to my strengths.”

Hybl says college golf coaching is about seeing the big picture around a player.

“Part of my job is to figure out where these guys are coming from,” Hybl said. He looks at a guy like Gotterup, who grew up in Little Silver, New Jersey, and competed mostly in the Northeast, and can see how that shaped Gotterup’s game.


Oklahoma head coach Ryan Hybl (l) and Chris Gotterup

Going off, Gotterup is one of the straightest golf ball drivers Hybl has ever seen — a “PGA Tour-caliber golf ball driver,” in fact. But the big golf courses in the Northeast tend to be smaller and curvy. Gotterup grew up hitting a lot of 2-irons off the tees.

“He would still potentially be hitting it through the doglegs and golfing into position because he knew if he was going out, in the northeast of the country, sometimes the weather was tougher, if you were going do your job and go and shoot even roughly, you will have a chance of winning almost every golf tournament he has entered.

Hybl acknowledged Gotterup’s reluctance to push him when he got to Pebble Beach. He gave his player the go-ahead to pursue him, and Gotterup played the next two events—Maridoe Collegiate and Colonial Collegiate (Texas’ two big golf courses)—in a combined 9-under and finished in the top 3 of the two.

By the time Oklahoma opened the spring at the Puerto Rico Classic last month, Gotterup was a birdie machine. He made a field-leading 22 in a 20-under performance to win the individual title as Oklahoma won the team title at 59 under. Transition completed.

Gotterup describes a setup at Grande Reserve Golf Club that helped that scoring effort, with many tee boxes moved to protect the teeing ground for this week’s PGA Tour event there.

“Some of the par 5s have just been moved, so if there was a week to do what we were doing as a team, it was this week for sure,” he said. “Perfect storm.”

By winning the varsity event at Grande Reserve, Gotterup secured a spot in this week’s Puerto Rico Open. He flew straight from Southern Highlands Collegiate in Las Vegas to compete.

In the fall of 2019, Gotterup earned a spot in the Korn Ferry Tour’s Lincoln Land Championship when he won the Notre Dame-hosted Fighting Irish Classic, but Puerto Rico will mark his first Tour start — and it will hopefully be. -the, a more normal professional. experience.

“It was cool, it was kind of funny because it happened during COVID, so it didn’t really seem like a big deal. It was kind of awkward because there had nobody there, it was kind of just us,” he said. “It was cool because you were seeing guys you see on TV and I was actually coming out of an operation at that at the time, so I was struggling a bit, so it was a bit of a weird event for me. Every time you play an event like this, it lets you see what other guys are doing and what you need to improve on when guys beat you by 20.”

In a way, the transfer to Oklahoma offered Gotterup something similar. He follows what you might call the Jonathan Brightwell model. Last year, Brightwell moved from North Carolina to Greensboro to enjoy an extra year of COVID eligibility in Oklahoma and finished his career 3-0 for the Sooners in NCAA match play. His 23 par or better rounds led the team for the season.

Disappointed with how COVID affected his senior year, Gotterup sat down with his Rutgers coaches on the day of the Big Ten finals last spring and announced he was moving to Oklahoma. Gotterup has nothing but affection for Rutgers — and maybe nostalgia. New Jersey was all he knew until Norman.

Many elements of his new surroundings push him, from the schedule to an in-depth team of training partners. That says a lot about the environment Hybl has created in Oklahoma that back-to-back transfers could be so successful in such a short time. Gotterup is not only Oklahoma’s leading scorer, but the No. 1 player in the Golfweek/Sagarin College rankings.

The message was very clear to Brightwell and Gotterup that nothing was promised. Above all, Hybl fosters a competitive environment within its program.

“If you’re looking for a place to play, that’s a guarantee,” Hybl explained, “I’m not your man.”

First impressions are everything, and the one Gotterup gave with his qualifying performance certainly caught the eye of his teammates. Gotterup is a play-reading guy with a witty sense of humor, Hybl says, and that helped him fit in immediately.

In Oklahoma, Gotterup has access to everything he needs to prepare for the next stage: the PGA Tour. That’s what most players on Power 5 rosters across the country have their sights set on, and Gotterup is no different. There are bigger opportunities at the top, like playing for PGA Tour starts.

“Back at Rutgers, I loved the coach and he pushed me really hard and the same here, but we just didn’t have the schedule that I have access to now in Oklahoma,” Gotterup said. “Week after week we play the best band you can put on paper.

“If you play well, you’ll take advantage of what he has to offer. If not, it will show up pretty quickly.

In Gotterup’s case, there is no such weakness to expose.