AUBURN — When Robert Flynn retired in 2015 after 18 years at the helm, the Bates College Bobcats were in search for a new golf coach for both their men’s and women’s programs.

Flynn, who held multiple roles in the athletic department at Bates including head baseball coach, assistant football coach and the head ski coach, passed away on July 31.

And the school was still looking for his successor as the golf coach.

Bates went with a unique approach to filling the shoes Flynn left behind. First, they looked internally, hiring men’s and women’s assistant Nordic ski coach James Upham to oversee the management aspect of the team, including scheduling, travel arrangements, budget oversight, equipment purchase and recruiting.

He will also accompany the teams when they travel to matches and tournaments. When there was an open assistant position last season, he had considered applying, but with a new member to the Upham family, there was no time to add more coaching duties.

“I couldn’t do it last year because I was having a baby boy,” Upham said. 

The Nordic ski coaches shared the same office with Flynn.

But while Upham is a fine administrator, he has no formal golf background, so the Bobcats needed someone who could act as a coach during practices. They enlisted the help of Nick Glicos and Kyle Bourassa, the PGA professionals at Martindale Country Club.

“We have a great relationship with Bates, we host a lot of their events,” Glicos said. “We are pretty excited for this opportunity. It’s very sad with the passing of Coach Flynn. He was a super man, loved by everybody and we are going to carry on the traditions of Bates golf. We are going to help the kids play some good golf.

Upham will be considered the head coach because of the administrative duties. He joked that if the golf team was an Olympic committee, he would be called the “high performance director.”

Glicos, who’s also a part owner of Martindale alongside Jim Day, wasn’t afraid to add more to his already busy schedule of helping run a golf course.

“When the opportunity came forward, I wanted to make sure I could do the best job for the school, but yet do my job at the golf course.” Glicos said.

Glicos also added coaching golf has been something he always thought about doing.

Nick and Kyle will help set the roster for each of the teams prior to the matches for Upham. They will also work on skill development for the teams.

“As far as their golf games go, that’s what we do, that’s they easy part I think,” Glicos said. “As a coach, we are going to get them in the right mindset, get them ready to play. At the same time, they got to have fun. It’s about having a good time too.”

Bourassa has golf coaching experience, having coached Cheverus High School in 2013.

“College golf is totally different because the kids have to have a different mentality,” Bourassa said. “Usually, they will go overnight, unless it’s a one-day tournament. Having that mentality of playing 18-holes, playing as a team and making it work, it’s a lot going on, and these kids have a lot more on their plates then a high school player who has nine holes.”

Upham hopes he can help Glicos and Bourassa with the psychology of the game as he sees familiarity between skiing and golf.

“My background is in biathlon and Nordic skiing,” Upham said. “Biathlon has a specific sports psychology element to it as well as Nordic skiing. On both accounts, you really being scored as a team but it’s really an individual sport. Even though it’s an individual sport, in college you are scored as a team. That what counts is the team score.”

The coaches will push the team aspect onto the players because they do everything as a team like traveling, staying in hotels and just interacting with each other.

Glicos understands the difficulty the kids have juggling academics and playing a sport in college as he played college golf at Elon College in Burlington, North Carolina.

Upham hasn’t gone too in depth with Glicos and Bourassa in terms of what type of players they want to bring in for future years.

“We are not necessarily going after and actively recruiting athletes at events, but we are really focusing hard on anyone who’s interested and expressed interest in the school,” Upham said.

The season opens up for both the men’s and women’s teams on September 10-11 with the Bowdoin Invitational at the Brunswick Golf Club.

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