Featured / Sports / The Prairie Fire / February 3, 2016

Restoring a dynasty

Knox’s recent addition to the Athletic Department’s coaching staff is Head Golf Coach Kenneth C. Harding. He accepted the position after previous Head Coach Robert Jan had to step down due to medical issues. Harding is not unfamiliar to the Knox’s golf team, he coached part time before Jan was chosen for the full-time position.

TKS sat down with Harding to discuss his plans for both the men’s and women’s teams in the upcoming seasons.

The Knox Student: Why don’t you introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about you?

Kenneth C. Harding: I grew up in Hamilton, Ill. and I’ve played golf since the age of eight. I played all through high school and through the collegiate level. I had been the assistant golf professional at Soangetaha for the past nine years, and had coached at the junior college levels, but had wanted to move up.

Kenneth C. Harding has been playing golf since the age of eight through the collegiate level. He uses his personal knowledge and experience in his coaching. (Photo courtesy of Kenneth C. Harding)

Kenneth C. Harding has been playing golf since the age of eight through the collegiate level. He uses his personal knowledge and experience in his coaching. (Photo courtesy of Kenneth C. Harding)

TKS: And what was the main factor that drew you back to Knox, besides the higher level of coaching?

K.C.H: Oh, just the storied history of Knox. Any golf program that has won 29 conference titles is pretty storied, and to be able to somewhat follow in the steps of Coach Knosher is pretty monumental.

TKS: What are your recruitment tactics for the upcoming season, specifically with no golfers for the women’s team?

K.C.H: The women’s team is in transition now to make the wrestling room into a year-round facility and be able to entice a more appealing package on top of the academic statures of Knox. We’re trying to make it the complete package. I mean, we know that we have an excellent education, we have a good course facility, but being able to attract an eager golfer in the Midwest, you have to provide them something year round that’s going to continue to develop their skills. By offering that, I feel we will attract a lot more golfers. As a part-time coach, I worked six days a week and had one day off, so I wasn’t able to recruit at the need that I should have been able to. This full time position will obviously allow me to recruit more of the time, allowing me to draw more students.

TKS: Are you pleased with the players Robert Jan has left you, or are they familiar to you?

K.C.H: Well, to be honest, I recruited all those players. I brought those players in, especially [freshman] Duncan Wheeler, and [sophomore] Patrick [Martin]; those are actually my first two recruits. When I took over the last recruit of golf, the head of the team was James Fenner [‘14], he was a senior, and he actually ended up winning conference his senior year. So, finding some kids that actually fit my style and my ethics is nice, to then be able to see them develop.

TKS: Going off of that, the team is young, and having recruited them you seem to feel they fit your coaching style. What kind of atmosphere are you attempting to create amongst the team?

K.C.H: It has kind of been an “acceptance to fail” so to speak in the past few years. I want to change that to “failure is not an option” to be able to compete and to be able to get it back to what it was, to get the kids to be proud to carry the Knox College bag. That’s the biggest thing, we’re going to be a lot more competitive moving forward and if we don’t win the most tournaments, we’re not going to accept “Oh well, we tried.”

TKS: How do you plan to prepare the team to be the most successful in the upcoming season?

K.C.H: Just like I said, with my golfing background, with over 10 plus years of teaching and knowing the golf course that we compete at I believe that that will elevate the players and their understandings of the game, course management and just having someone that’s hands-on with them day in and day out, whether it be on the course or in the golf facility indoors. Being here full time will give us the capability to have a more intense practice, and to have more intense group meetings. All of those things will contribute to immediate success.

TKS: Do you find there’s any pressure or support coming into a Knox Athletics program that seems to be turning over a new leaf and becoming a lot more successful in recent seasons?

K.C.H: Yeah, absolutely. Everyone here has been very welcoming, but I’d be lying to say that I don’t feel a pressure to turn this around. Obviously it can’t happen overnight, but to say that it can’t happen within a year or two would be a lie. I truly believe within two years we should be able to compete at having a chance to win conference and having representable players. Nothing would mean more to me than to win the 30th conference title for Coach Knosher and let him know that all his hard work to make this a dynasty is back in good hands.

Sam Watkins

Tags:  harley knosher kenneth c. harding knox golf Robert Jan

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