One of the most accomplished scholastic golfers in Section II history is making a seamless transition to the college game.
No surprise here. This kid can play with the big boys.
Bethlehem graduate Victor Fox is making an immediate impact on the University of Maryland golf team as a freshman, which is not an easy thing to do.
During the fall season, Fox placed 25th and finished with a three-over-par 219 as the second-best Terp at the Gene Miranda Falcon Invitational.
Then, showing vast improvement as he got the feel for the college-game’s slick greens, he led the Terps and finished eighth overall with a two-under-par 211 (70-71-70) at the ODU/.OBX Collegiate.
After practicing hard over the winter at Maryland’s outstanding golf facilities, Fox picked up this spring where he left off in the fall. He shot a 73 in the final round to finish ninth with a three-day total of six-over-par 216 at the Palmetto Intercollegiate in Aiken, S.C.
Then, Fox shot a two-over-par score of 218 over three days at the Schenkel Invitational in Statesboro, Ga. Even more impressive was a double eagle he posted on the par-5 18th hole.
“It’s the first time it’s ever happened on that course, also the first time it’s happened in the 35 years of the tournament,” said Fox proudly. “It was a double dog-leg. I hit a driver off the tee and then boomed a 260-yard 3-wood. The ball trickled in the hole. I didn’t see it go in, but my assistant coach did, as well as everyone else around the green. That was quite a memorable shot.”
Fox feels he is well prepared for the college game.
“I had a good junior golf tournament schedule, between the U.S. Junior Amateur and the Junior PGA,” he said. “When you’re playing in those kinds of tournaments, you’re playing against a lot of the guys you’re going to face in college. They are usually the top golfers in the nation at that level. I think those tournaments prepared me for this level of competition.”
As a junior golfer, Fox not only won the AJGA Ravenwood championship, but he also posted the lowest round in Section II history (62) while playing for the Eagles. He was the sectional medalist in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Fox, competing as a high school senior, then nearly became the first Capital Region golfer in more than 25 years to win the prestigious New York State Amateur, when he finished a shot off the lead last summer at Schuyler Meadows. He had the lead going to the final hole.
“The biggest thing for me in college golf is playing 36 holes the first day and then 18 more the second day in a lot of our tournaments,” Fox said. “That’s the way it is in most college tournaments. I think the biggest thing I’ve had to adapt to is my endurance.”
Fox isn’t afraid of playing the most challenging courses, and he’s getting plenty of opportunity to do just that.
“We’ve played some pretty tough courses already, and the greens superintendents usually have the greens rolling right around an 11 or 12 [on the Stimpmeter],” said Fox.
“At the Paul Meadow course in Aiken, S.C., those greens were extremely slopey and fast. You had to concentrate more on your approach shots and make sure you were in the right position and the right portion of the green to give yourself the best opportunity not to three-putt.”
Although Fox is an excellent ball-striker with plenty of length, he spends most of his time working on his short game, especially his wedge play and his putting.
“The key thing about the short game is repetitions,” Fox said. “We don’t spend that much time in practice hitting the ball. We spend a lot more time on the short game by using the wedge board. My wedges are much better here in college. My wedge-game has improved dramatically. I think my entire short game is much better. Now, I can follow the face-of-the-clock formula with my wedges, like taking it back to 9 p.m. or 3 p.m. the clock for different distances. I’m getting to the point where I know exactly how far each shot will travel.”
Maryland coach Jason Rodenhaver is a big fan of Fox. In fact, he wishes he had several more players just like him.
“He’s having a good year so far,” said Rodenhaver. “Not only that, but he’s also a straight-A student. He’s the kind of guy you want in your program. “He comes from a good family. Plus, he’s tougher than everybody else. He’s a New Yorker, and he brings that toughness. I think he’s just scratching the surface from the golf standpoint.”
Rodenhaver likes Fox’s feel for the game, but he also appreciates his physical attributes.
“He’s very athletic, and he comes from an athletic background,” the coach said about the former BC basketball player. “He’s certainly long enough off the tee to play at this level. I think he’s learning as he goes. He needs to get better from 100 yards and in, but so do most of us. He’s extremely competitive. That’s probably the biggest thing about him. He likes to compete, and he’s the kind of guy who isn’t afraid of anybody. You can’t teach that attitude.”
Fox, who received some excellent teaching back home from Western Turnpike head pro Herb Moreland and former Cobleskill Golf & Country assistant pro Scott Berliner, also isn’t afraid of establishing some pretty lofty goals for himself.
“There is definitely a lot of competition out there on the college level,” he said. “You’ve got to play hard, and you’ve got to shoot scores that matter. You can’t be happy with even-par. You need to shoot several shots under par to have a chance.
“My goal is to be an All-ACC selection, and then to be an All-American,” he said. “Ultimately, I would like to win an NCAA championship. That’s what I’m shooting for.”