Devin Stanton is in his fifth season as Assistant Coach to the Georgia Tech men’s golf team. The GA Tech alum is a former baseball pitcher and pro caddie, and is now responsible for recruiting, fitness development, assisting with practice design and supervising technology at the Yellow Jackets’ Noonan Practice Facility.
In the last three years, he has helped the team advance to the NCAA finals, as well as capturing an ACC Conference title and 12 tournament wins.
Last season, Georgia Tech made it all the way to the Championship match at Greyhawk before losing out to Florida. Since then, Devin has caddied for one of the team’s stars, Christo Lamprecht, in the Open Championship at Hoylake. The tall South African, who is currently number one ranked amateur in the world, was joint leader of the Open after round one. “He was in the zone,” Devin recalls. “I was just trying to stay out of the way.”
Here, Coach Stanton talks about Georgia Tech’s banner 2022/23 season, how Clippd is helping and why this year's team might be even better.
Congratulations on the 2022/23 season. How do you feel when you look back on it now?
Devin Stanton: “As much as it stings to fall one match short, it was an incredible year. I was just really proud of the guys. They started playing their best when it mattered the most. They went away with the victory at the ACCs and then won regionals and then obviously did what they did at the national championship. It was just awesome to see them clicking, especially when it came down to crunch time.
We knew on paper that we were a really good team. We had the talent, I think everybody knew that. But nobody on that team had made match play at Nationals before. There were still those questions about what it takes. The message throughout the whole of spring was just be yourself. I think they took that to heart and they turned out to be pretty darn good.
The exciting part about this year is we now have three players on the team who know exactly what it's like. They know what it feels like, what it sounds like, what it tastes like. So, they can lead the other guys and say, ’Hey, this is why we're doing what we're doing in August and September. I promise it will be worth it come April, May and June’.”
You had a lot of high finishes before you clinched the first win last season. As a coaching team, how did you get the guys to start peaking at the right time?
Devin Stanton: We didn't talk about the results a ton. I think the guys really just bought into the idea of enjoying the time with each other. The stuff off the golf course mattered just as much as on the golf course, whether that was team dinners, workouts, or just practising together. I think they just kind of fell in love with getting as good as they possibly could and enjoying the process of getting better.
I remember two years ago, with pretty much the same team, Coach [Heppler] said, “You know when you first turn a faucet on, it takes a little time for the water to get hot.” He made the analogy that our water is on hot right now, and we're just waiting for it to heat up. And when it does, it's going to be awesome!
How has Clippd contributed to the process of the players getting better?
Devin Stanton: At the end of the day, it just takes out the guesswork. It's just so easy and beneficial to go in and look at what you're doing well and what you're not doing well and be able to take the emotion out of it. You know, someone may walk off a four-round qualifier having missed by a shot, and obviously that comes with some heartbreak. But sometimes the emotion gets into it, as in 'If I just would have made more putts'. But you can look at the data and say, 'No, you putted well. It was a different aspect of the game’.
“They love the game, they’re trying to get better and they’re using Clippd to their advantage”
We have a group of guys who love golf and love the pursuit of getting as good as they possibly can. They use the app to give them reliable feedback, such as ‘Hey, this is my lowest hanging fruit’. That's a term that we use a lot. It looks different for everybody because golf is an individual sport and people have different strengths and weaknesses in their game.
They use Clippd for looking at what they did well and what they can improve on after a tournament or after a four-round qualifier. A lot of guys have also started using the drills that you guys have built in to switch up their practice routine.
The gap between the top levels of college golf and the elite levels of the pro game is shrinking all the time. How exciting does it feel to be coaching at this level right now?
Devin Stanton: The game is getting younger and younger, for sure. I think you can make the argument across most sports. Kids are getting more serious about training at an earlier age. As a result, they're getting more skilled and getting better faster. The game is getting younger at the PGA Tour level, and obviously that's just manifesting itself through the college ranks.
If you're a first team All-American in college, there's a good chance you're ready to play on the Korn Ferry, the PGA Tour or the European Tour. That's kind of proven itself with guys like Ludvig [Aberg]. He's obviously an exceptional talent. and I know our big six eight South African [Christo Lamprecht] would love to follow in his footsteps, as would the other guys that are in the top-10 on the PGA Tour U this year. It's an incredible group of talent. It's fun to watch, that's for sure.
You've got a core group of very talented players who have been all the way to the Championship Match at the NCAA finals, as well as some exciting players breaking into the starting line-up. How good do you think this year’s team can be?
Devin Stanton: It could be just as good, to be honest. Obviously, you need the right things to happen. You need Christo and Bartley [Forrester] to play like the All-Americans they can be, and Hiroshi [Tai] to get even better as well. But we feel like we have young guys that have a ton of talent. They just haven't had the opportunity yet to really display it. We see it as a long game. Do they need to be ready to be an All-American right now? No. They have some six, seven, eight months to do that. So what we focus on is getting better every single day.
Watching that process through Clippd is a lot of fun.
It’s been great for our guys utilise the app, especially the young guys. Sometimes it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but I feel like the younger group of guys that we have at the moment really enjoy using it. They obviously love the game, they're trying to get better and they're using Clippd to their advantage by really analysing what areas of the game they need to get better at. Then they’re putting in the work. So, it really has been a critical piece of their development for sure.
Further reading: An in-depth interview with GA Tech Head Coach Bruce Heppler