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If Life Gives You Lemons...

OU Golfer, Teammates Draw on Culture for Success

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Since March 2020, many of us lived by that motto. As common activities were canceled, we grieved—for ourselves and for those who brought happiness to others by those activities. Intercollegiate athletics literally shut down as the student-athletes struggled with what to do next.

Logan McAllister, then a sophomore on the University of Oklahoma men’s golf team, found his career shut down. He played in three events as a freshman and as a sophomore. He won the Nike Invitational and recorded four rounds in the 60s, including a career-low 65. While other OU student-athletes learned how to cope with Zoom or headed home until campus re-opened, McAllister, who is from Oklahoma City, and his local teammates figured out how to play golf safely once courses began opening up.

“We didn’t really have much to do. With golf being outside, we took advantage of that,” McAllister said. “Once the NCAA announced the additional year of eligibility and all of our 2019-20 seniors announced they were coming back, we knew we had the possibility to have a very special year.”

Special might not cover it. OU became the first team to qualify for all five years of match play at the NCAA Championship. The Sooners lost 3-2 in the final match to finish as the runner-up. The last three days were extra special for McAllister. He won all three of his matches. He hit the second hole-in-one of his career on the final day of stroke play, then added another one during the final 18 holes.

“I never thought I would have holes-in-one during the competition. The first one bounced a few times before it went in but the second felt great off the tee,” McAllister added. “It was cool to watch it go right in.”

The NCAA Golf Championship is 72 holes of stroke play with a cut to the final eight teams for match play. While many fans like the familiarity of stroke play, McAllister has a different perspective. “I love match play. It is a great way to determine the national champ. The momentum can change so quickly and it is easy to know what is going on. You can really feed off the momentum.”

That final tournament was the highlight of a season that was a career best for McAllister. He played in every tourney and won the Big 12 Colonial Preview. Named Big 12 Golfer of the Month in September, he had two runner-up finishes in the spring. His 71.60 career stroke average entering the NCAA Championship is the third lowest in school history.

“When the seniors announced their decisions, we all just knew something special was happening. It really is part of the culture that Coach (Ryan) Hybl and Coach (Bill) Allcorn have built. We are a close-knit team and it made sense for us to continue to play together as long as we did it safely. Everything else was shut down. We learn from those ahead of us and we pass it along. It is a natural flow that is unique and it leads to long-term success.”

There were five redshirt seniors on the Sooner roster in 2020-21 and they are gone. That moves McAllister up to a leadership role and his coach called the final day of the NCAA a changing of the guard. And McAllister sounds like he is ready.

“I have learned from great leaders. I have come through our program and our culture. I see our success continuing because that is what our culture is all about.”

Pour that lemonade.