Most golfers spend their whole lives searching for par. Bracton Womack has spent the majority of his career living in the red.
Womack recently completed a standout career at Tennessee Tech, where he developed into one of the top golfers in the OVC. In his final season, he was named All-OVC first team, wrapping up a career where he played 38 events (and 110 rounds) for the Eagles.
In his final match for the Eagles, Womack was named to the OVC All-tournament team while playing at Dalhousie Gob Club in Missouri. He helped Tennessee Tech finish first in stroke play and won both of his match-play events against South Illinois University and UT-Martin, though the Skyhawks edged out TTU 3-2 to win the tourney.
That final tournament provided Womack with two lasting impressions – the most difficult golf course he’s played and the best memories of being a collegiate golfer.
“It was the hardest course I played in college. It was brutal –a link-style golf course in the US,” said Womack. “If you missed the fairway, you were in high rough or fescue. It was long too. It was a really tough test,” said Womack.
He added, “Right down to the last event where we’re all together trying to help us win, that’s the memories I’ll have with me forever. I was lucky enough to win a collegiate event my sophomore year and that doesn’t happen often, so I’m thankful for that. My favorite moments though will be all our trips, the games and all my time with my guys.”
Womack never had trouble piling up highlights while at Tech. He was an all-tournament performer seven times in his career (the eighth-most in program history). Womack also won the Grover Page Classic as a sophomore, was named to the OVC All-Newcomer team in 2017-18 and was recognized all the OVC Player of the Week three times (including for the final time in April as a senior).
It’s a career that may have never happened if not for Womack trading in a bat for a club as a youngster. “Growing up, baseball was what I played and was my main sport until high school. It wasn’t until eight grade when I made golf my primary sport,” said Womack. “From seventh to eighth grade, it was a big jump. I started to take it a lot more seriously. I realized I could do it.”
Womack had family who lived on a golf course, so he always had access to the game. He played many round over the years, but it wasn’t until he got some wise words of advice to calm himself on the course that he started to find his footing with the sport.
“When I was little, I had a terrible attitude. David Burris took me under his wing and he told me, ‘If you want to do it, none of that will fly.’ I got an attitude check when I was really young, so now I pride myself is making sure I never get too up or too down,” said Womack.
He had a meteoric rise from there, emerging as one of the best players in the Midstate during his high school career at Warren County High School. He was a three-time state qualifier for the Pioneers, capping off his career with a top-10 finish at WillowBrook. Jumping from being the best in high school to a member of Tech was a massive jolt back in 2017.
“The biggest thing was that in high school, I was the guy. There may have been 1-2 guys in the district who competed, but in college I was just another fish in the pond,” recalled Womack about his journey starting at Tech. “There were so many good golfers and I had to work to find my place and get my spot. When I arrived, there was just me and one other freshmen. The team was older and they were the vets, so it took me a while to prove myself.
“I qualified right off and played, then by my sophomore year and on I was one of the leaders.”
Just being good enough to play tournaments was a new challenge for Womack. He had to play over 100 holes just to get a lineup, “Unless you give your coach a reason to exempt you,” noted Womack. He had top finishes early in his freshman year and did earn some exemptions, but coming back every season meant proving himself once again.
“Every year, you’re playing over 100 holes before the first tournament. It didn’t matter how good you are,” said Womack about the fight to keep his spot. “I knew and my coach knew that when I was at the top of my game, that’s what the team needed. There are times to where I got too comfortable (about qualifying), but you can’t think about it. You just go out and play.”
Keeping his position at the top of the roster meant Womack got a college experience that few others get. As a D1 athlete, Womack had all the gear he wanted and traveled around the states taking on the nicest courses.
“We played some unreal courses and I met people that I would’ve never gotten to meet without college golf. It’s definitely something I won’t take for granted,” said Womack, who noted Sapphire Valley was the nicest course he played when asked. “It’s in the Mountains of North Carolina. It’s unreal how maintained it is and you’d never know it was there.”
During his early days at Tech, Womack had two major influencers on his career. One was a close friend and teammate, while the other was a competitor that he took notes from immediately.
“My freshman year, Hunter Richardson was at UT Martin. He was the golfer in the OVC and everybody looked up to him. He had won player of the year a couple times. I got the opportunity to play with him a couple times my freshman year when I put myself in position in the final pairings,” said Womack. “I really got to watch how he played the game and took a lot from him. We continued our friendship outside the game of golf and we still talked.”
Will Brooks – somebody Womack competed against when he was a Pioneer and Brooks was a Cookeville Cavalier – was the other big standout in Womack’s college career. “He’s the reason I ended up at Tennessee Tech. We’ve always been big buddies my entire life. He’s playing professional golf now,” said Womack.
When he started to see the end of the line, Womack had to have a gut-check moment. All those years of success and lessons learned on the course weren’t helping him as a senior – he was floundering and needed to look deep to find his game and block out anything else.
“The start of my last semester, I got off to a terrible start. I played like crap and I think it’s because I was putting too much pressure on myself and thinking ‘You came all this way - Don’t blow it now.’ I had to step back and realize it was the end no matter what, so I didn’t need to add pressure. Thankfully, my last two tournaments were some of my best and I almost helped us win an OVC tournament,” said Womack.
Now that he’s done with school, Womack has new ways to spend his day. He graduated with a degree in Business Management and has already started working towards his Master’s, but he’s also gotten a new job at Douglas and Lanier Agency. Womack will be selling insurance locally, bringing him back to his roots.
He knows he’ll be asked about golf at every stop, including by people already who wonder why he’s not going pro. Womack, a confident golfer who has competed with the best and conquered some challenging courses, enjoys the compliment by people who believe he can make it, but also knows the difference between the amateur and pro level.
“Right now, I’m not trying to pursue golf professionally and people ask me why? They all know me from golfing and I’m a good golfer, but the jump from really good to professional is something that you can’t explain. The amount of hours you have to put in day-after-day to even have a chance is extraordinary,” said Womack. “I could go out and could compete for a day or so, but day-in, day-out, my good can be as good as their good, but my bad is a lot worse than their bad.”
Womack may have to settle for being the most sought-after scramble partner in Warren County. Fortunately, he’s very much at ease with that lifestyle as he has no plans of giving up the sport he loves anytime soon. “I’ve met so many cool people and been so many good places. If it’s not something I can do as a career, I wanted to do something where it could help me around the game. I think insurance will give me a chance to pursue a career and play as well,” said Womack.
“I’m not going to put the clubs up.”
This is the second in our series of Security Federal College Spotlights coming this summer. If there is an athlete you’d like to see featured, please email us at email@example.com
Emily Mikkola, softball at TWU: https://www.wcsportsauthority.com/post/security-federal-college-spotlight-emily-mikkola