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Dustin Jensen working as Jimmies golf interim head coach

Mar. 27—JAMESTOWN — Dustin Jensen is taking his decades of experience working with golfers at all levels when he returns as the interim head coach of the men's and women's golf teams at the University of Jamestown.

Jensen said during the time between former head coach Zach Hale announcing his resignation on Jan. 22 and officially departing on Jan. 31, Jensen, Hale and graduate assistant Jenna Knutson worked on a transition plan. In his first two months on the job, Jensen said he has met with his team and figured out how to help them succeed.

"At that time, I met with the upper classmen to review how practices were going, what was working, where they felt like they needed more work," Jensen said. "We revamped things a little bit based off of feedback. I've been spending a lot of time in the Nelson Family Bubble. I've been spending a lot of time a lot of time in our golf practice facilities. We've got a couple simulators, we've got a putting area. So, spending a ton of working with the team helping them get dialed in."

Jensen said in discussions with Jimmies athletic director Austin Hieb it was determined that he would be the best option while they look for a permanent head coach.

Jensen was named to the position after Hale announced his resignation on Jan. 22, effective on Jan. 31. Jensen said he was not surprised by Hale's departure as he was helping him during his job search. Jensen said he was a reference for Hale during his search.

Jensen said that he was at the meeting when Hale told the team he was leaving and helped support the golfers during that process. Jensen said he was there are part of his current role as the vice president for student affairs and dean of students. He said it meant a lot to him to get to be in the room while Hale announced his departure.

"I think shortly after I think they were very happy because they had another coach right there waiting to support them toward their goals," Jensen said. "So they were really positive and so far they've responded really well."

Jensen previously coached the team from 2012-2015 and then took over for the 2016-17 season.

"I'm using a little bit of the different dabblings that we'd had from before, a lot of my background from my previous jobs," Jensen said. "Most of my golf time was spent running tournaments for youth and college-age kids and state and national championships. So I spent a lot of time around some really high-end golfers, so it's kind of fun to revert back to those experiences and get to share it with the student-athletes here in Jamestown."

Jensen helped the teams compete at their first meet of the spring season, the Konzem-Capra Invitational from March 18-19. During that event, the Jimmies men finished third and the women finished fourth.

Since he was last the head coach, Jensen said the game itself has not changed a tremendous amount but the golfers themselves have changed.

"So it's really fun to see a new group that are just different," Jensen said. "It's fun to get to know them, understand the things that they learned from coach Hale. There's so many positives that the teams have ingrained in them and now to be able to spend some time getting to know them and trying to show them some of the things that I've learned along the way to help them continue to get better."

During his time away from the University of Jamestown, Jensen was the managing director of operations and chief operating officer at the Colorado Golf Association for three years. During his time in Colorado, he worked with golfers who have gone on to have a lot of success like Wyndham Clark and Jennifer Kupcho. He said knowing and interacting golfers at the highest level allows him to tell his players what it is like at that level and what it takes to get there.

"It's so fun to be with the team and watch that and be able to talk about the highs and lows for somebody that good and then later that night I'm texting Wyndham about the situation and I'm able to share it with the kids," Jensen said. "... It's really fun to share the stories about those kids who are now the best players in the world with student-athletes in Jamestown, North Dakota. It's so fun to let them see how normal and real these student-athletes are."

After this season, Jensen said he will return to his full-time job with the university. Through his role, Jensen said he interacts with students on a daily basis, which has allowed him to get to know the golfers before he took the position.

"I had a good relationship with many of the upperclassmen just because I'm around the golf world so much here in the state of North Dakota," Jensen said. "But (I) didn't have as big of a relationship with the young kids, the freshmen, sophomores. So, it's been a lot of fun to get to know everybody and really let them get to know me as well. So I feel like there's a pretty strong bond already developing between the teams and I think a trust for me from our student-athletes that I'm really trying to get into their brains."

During his third tenure, Jensen said he has helped teach his golfers about their routines before taking their shots, staying mentally tough. Jensen and his team went down to Arizona during spring break and practiced on courses there. Jensen said one of the similarities between his full-time job and his job as the head coach is the need to be a good listener and keep the welfare of the students and the student-athletes in mind.

Jensen said the fact that he already had a relationship with his golfers has helped him in hitting the ground running once he became the head coach. He said he has experience playing against some of the men's golfers in the annual First Community Credit Union Labor Day Classic golf tournament. He said the fact that they have that shared experience has helped the men's team feel comfortable with him almost immediately. He said he has enjoyed getting to know the women's team over his time with the squad.

Despite the fact that he will not be the head coach next year, Jensen said he is recruiting. He said the current class includes five men and four women committed as of March 25. Jensen said the recruiting pitch has been about his experience and the school.

Jensen UJ has received lot of applications for the head golf coaching position. They are hoping to have interviews done over the next two months and have a head coach introduced by the end of the school year.