The Coyote men’s golf coach John Vining graduated from USD in 2013, and now his brother, senior Tommy Vining, is leading the team to a Summit League Championship.
John Vining took the job as the head coach of the men’s team in the July 2018 after five seasons as an assistant to the men’s and women’s golf teams.
Tommy Vining grew up competing with John, even with the seven-year age difference between the two. They played basketball, golf and football growing up together. John admits letting Tommy win when the two were really young, but Tommy eventually could beat John without the handicap.
Tommy and John were born with golf in their blood. Their grandfather Tom Egan is in the South Dakota Golf Association Hall of Fame, and their aunt Jane Egan played on the LPGA Tour. The Vinings’ father played Division I golf at Texas Pan American.
“I was brought into (golf) as a baby, with my family playing golf. He (John) definitely influenced me to play sports, basketball too,” Tommy Vining said. “So I definitely remember playing with him and learning from him, and I would say he definitely influenced me in playing golf.”
Tommy went to the University of Minnesota before transferring to USD in 2016. He won the Summit League Newcomer of the Year for 2016-2017. Tommy is a two-time all-Summit first team selection.
The 2018-2019 spring season started in South Carolina. Tommy Vining tied for seventh in the UNCG Martin Downs Collegiate that took place Sunday through Tuesday, Feb. 10-12. The team placed eighth, but saw major improvements from round one to rounds two and three. The winter season for USD includes a lot of preparation in the dome, which has positives and negatives.
“The only negative (about practicing in the dome) is you can’t see the ball fly. Our springs are usually really good and that just alludes to us practicing the right things. It is nice to get away from playing so much because we have a full spring season, full summer and fall of playing,” Tommy Vining said. “It is nice to just practice in the Dome and not worry about traveling and competing. We have a practice green and everything so we can practice just about anything and it helps us be refreshed for the spring.”
“The disadvantage is not being to practice on the natural grass surface, and obviously not getting to play rounds of golf. In terms of advantages, we have lots. We have the opportunity to hit full wedge shots, and working on fundamentals,” John Vining said. “My job is to make indoor practice interesting, exciting and competitive because things can get repetitive in the DakotaDome. I love indoor practice for us, it is our time to get better and not get wrapped up in how the ball is flying.”
The brothers’ connection off the course has an impact on their relationship on the course and in practice. Tommy Vining knows that his brother challenges him because of their relationship, but John Vining doesn’t want to treat his younger brother different than any other member of the team.
“He challenges me a lot because he knows me so well. I’m always trying to prove to him I can do what he asks me to do. He just challenges me to get better.” Tommy Vining said.
“He might see things, or disagree with Coach, but he is very respectable and very coachable. Sometimes I have to make sure I am coaching him up and making sure I’m not letting him just do his own thing,” John Vining said. “I just have to remember that and not take it for granted, and do my best to keep him moving in the right direction.”
Tommy Vining said he doesn’t want to let a moment of his final semester here slip by. He is excited to play at new courses, but also to be in the classroom when he can knowing this is his final semester.
“I’d say for result my hope is that we can win the Summit League championship. We have been really close the last couple years and we are eager to win that,” Tommy Vining said. “We have the same couple guys for the last few years for the most part and I know that we are eager and believe that we can win. Also to just enjoy the last semester here, playing the courses and having one last semester with my teammates.”