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"I'll tell ya, we're going to be good."
Entering into his 36th year as the head coach of Kent State University's men's golf program, Herb Page has earned the right to be honest about his team's prospects -- and you can bet that he knows what good looks like.
Speaking at the Ravenna Area Chamber of Commerce's luncheon Wednesday at Windmill Lakes Golf Club in Ravenna, Page, who has also served as Director of Golf at Windmill Lakes since 1977, shared some stories of his experiences in the sport, as well as offered a glimpse at what is to come for Kent State's nationally-recognized men's golf program.
"I don't hide behind it anymore and tell people we're not going to be good, because we are good," Page said. "Our expectations are very high and our young men have worked very hard. They're excellent athletes and students, and we're going to work hard to get to that goal of a national championship."
Page has every reason to set a high bar after advancing to the NCAA Championship in each of the last four seasons, with a program-best fifth-place finish coming just two season ago.
"It's an elite group (at the national level), but we're very comfortable around it," Page said. "We're looking forward to starting, and I get energized by it."
The list of tremendous talents who have passed through Page's watchful eye is a long one, but no player has earned the accolades of 2003 British Open winner Ben Curtis, who is a 2000 graduate of Kent State.
Page maintains a close relationship with the three-time college All-American, and escorted the Stow resident to Scotland last week as he attempted to capture a second British Open championship.
"Part of my job is that I get to hang around Ben Curtis quite a bit," Page joked. "It's really cool for me to get rewarded with (Curtis) still trusting my eye and offering advice, when he asks."
Throughout the course of his career, Page has basically become the face of golf in Portage County, providing advice to not just his own players, but many of the young golfers in the area.
"(Monday) we had the Portage County Junior," Page said. "The first round was here on Monday, but I didn't get home in time. On Tuesday, it was at Oak Knolls (in Kent), so I got in my car and went over there.
"It was really cool because there are all these kids playing," Page said. "Two days earlier, I'm in Scotland and watching the world's best, while today I'm watching these kids and getting to see them play. I've got a really great job."
A native of Toronto, Canada, Page graduated from Kent State in 1974 after himself playing for the Golden Flashes' golf team.
After earning his Master's degree from Kent State, Page was asked in 1977 to take over stewardship of Windmill Lakes, which was, at the time, mired in financial struggles.
Under Page's watch, Windmill Lakes has grown into one of the best public courses in the country, including recently being named the No. 2 course in Ohio and the No. 43 course in the nation by Golfnow.com.
"I can remember coming out here in 1973-74 as a senior and playing here," Page said. "It was kind of rough and if you hit your ball off the fairway, you'd never find it, but the layout was fabulous. I was working at Kent State and (Windmill Lakes) was going bankrupt.
"I was young and I really got a great opportunity," Page added. "Over the years, Windmill Lakes has become a destination course where people are coming from all over to play here and we're very proud of that."
Facebook: Colin Harris, Record-Courier