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Raising Green On Greens Turns Work To Pleasure

June 9, 2009

By Matt Hombach

Towson University president Dr. Robert Caret took the new King Cobra driver for a test drive at Hayfields Country Club.
(Matt Hombach)
Like many golfers these days, Dr. Robert Caret has a plush tiger head cover on the driver in his bag. The big difference: Caret's head cover isn't nicknamed Frank and didn't star in any Nike commercials. And while the more famous tiger head cover is orange and owned by millions of golfers worldwide, the noble beast guarding Caret's TaylorMade R9 is of the yellow variety, the mascot for Towson University, where Caret serves as president.

While Caret has been involved in academics nearly his entire professional life, he didn't pick up golf until the late 1980s. As he advanced to the position of vice president at San Jose State (where he later rose to president), Caret saw how playing the game could help him in business and allow him to enjoy time outdoors doing something athletic.

"Golf for me became a great tool as fundraising and relationship building became a bigger part of my job," said Caret. "There were CEOs and other business leaders I couldn't get a meeting with, but I could get them on the golf course."

While "work golf" has been a bit less in vogue with corporate entertainment budgets being slashed, Caret still sees value in doing business on the course.

"Once you've played a four- or five-hour round of golf with someone, you really get to know them," he said. "It's an excellent way to establish a relationship and find common ground with someone."

A natural athlete and an avid jogger most of his adult life, Caret took an academic approach to learning the game.

"I read lots of books and watched a lot of videos when I first got started," he said. "I also took a series of lessons that helped me establish good fundamentals."

Taking up golf on the West Coast had some distinct benefits of which Caret took full advantage. He has played Pebble Beach and other marquee courses on the Monterrey Peninsula on a regular basis. Some other picturesque courses Caret counts as favorites include San Jose Country Club and Corde Valle Golf Resort.

He also hobnobbed with a few showbiz types on the course, including a handful of rounds with entertainer Tommy Smothers, a regular participant in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

"Tommy's a great guy to play with," said Caret. "He keeps it light and doesn't get too frustrated. I had him out here to Hayfields a few years ago, and he just loved it."

Caret plays to about a 24 handicap now and admits driving the ball off the tee is one of the weak points of his game. His home club of Hayfields offered him a new King Cobra driver to test drive and see what he thought.

On a recent warm spring afternoon at Hayfields Country Club in Hunt Valley, Caret cast aside his TaylorMade R9 to try the new King Cobra S9-1 driver that promises more powerful, accurate drives for all types of golfers.

After a few warm-up shots, Caret started hitting the driver well, with a nice little draw, his natural ball flight.

"I could go out and play this right now," he said. "It has a nice, solid feel to it and is easy to hit, almost like a fairway wood or hybrid."

Caret is still in the honeymoon period with his TaylorMade driver, only having it for a few weeks. But, he seemed reluctant to say he would jump ship to a new club so soon.

"I really hit the Taylor great; it is very forgiving and has given me an extra 20 yards off the tee," he said. "To be honest, I can tell I am just not hitting the Cobra as far."

Doc Minnegan Tournament Supports Towson Scholarship

For anyone interested in checking out Dr. Caret's game firsthand, he'll be teeing it up at the Towson Hall of Fame Golf Outing benefiting the Dr. Donald "Doc" Minnegan Scholarship Endowment June 22 at Oakmont Greens Golf Club in Hampstead.

Check-in and lunch begin at 11:30 a.m., followed by a shotgun start at 1 p.m. Contact Phyllis Brown at 410-704-2962 or pbbrown@towson.edu.

Issue 138: June 2009