Freshman Dial prepares for Braves season
By Robert Kelley
Golf is one of the most difficult sports to master. It requires patience, concentration, knowledge, power and precision.
The time it takes to really become good is longer than most sports, but for those lucky few people, it just comes easily to them. Nick Dial is one of them.
Starting to play when he was just 13 years old, Dial has quickly become a top notch golfer.
Shooting with a handicap of 20 as a freshman at local Purnell Swett High School, Dial turned that into a handicap between 2-4 as a junior.
He was quickly recognized and piled up the accolades, including first team all conference honors while in high school. Dial was heavily recruited by several Atlantic Coast Conference schools to join their golf teams, including North Carolina State and Wake Forest. Dial was accepted to both of those schools but chose to stay close to his roots and attend UNCP.
“My dad always wanted me to come here because he was an alum and my mom also came to school here. It’s in my family’s roots and I like being close to the place where I grew up. It’s nice to keep in touch with my friends from high school and spend more time with my family,” he said.
UNCP’s Golf Coach David Synan has helped transform Dial’s game.
“Coach Synan has really made a difference. I like the way he makes us practice: one day focusing on putting, the next on driving, the next on pitching.
“It’s good for me because all of these different practices really refine my game and it shows on the course. Then at the end of the week, we put all the practices together and play 18 holes,” Dial continued.
The difficult game of golf came relatively easy to Dial over one three month period.
“After my sophomore year of high school, I realized that I enjoyed playing but I wanted to improve, so I would try to play everyday and figure out how to get better. By the time the semester started, I was an entirely different player. I was much better than three months earlier,” he said.
Dial is looking forward to his first taste of collegiate golf.
“I can’t wait for the season to start. I hope to maintain even par throughout the year in the matches that I’m chosen for,” he said.
“My goal is to show everybody that I can compete on a collegiate level. I want to play well to help the team and also become a bit of an eye opener to the rest of the competition. Hopefully, I can become a member of the All-Conference team before my time here is done,” Dial said.
In such a frustrating sport, Dial can’t see his life without it.
“Golf is my passion. I love this game. It runs deep within me. I want to do this for as long as I can,” he added.
Dial has the dream that lies within every player that ever picked up a golf club.
“The PGA Tour is the ultimate goal, but I understand that it takes stepping stones to get there. Maybe I can get on one of those smaller tours like the Nationwide one,” Dial contemplated.
When somebody thinks of golf, there is one man, one name that always comes to mind, Tiger Woods. For Dial, it’s no different.
“It is my lifetime dream to be paired with Tiger Woods. He’s the absolute best and one of my role models. How could anybody not want to play golf after watching how perfectly he plays the game. I try to emulate my swing after his. It’s the absolute perfect way to swing a golf club, so that’s what I try to do,” Dial said.
Dial and the rest of the Braves will open up the second portion of their season on Feb. 18 when they travel to New London, N.C., to participate in the Johnny Palmer Invitational for their first of six tournaments during the spring.