Over Labor Day weekend, the RedHawks’ golf team traveled to Michigan to compete in the Island Resort Intercollegiate. The RedHawks, ranked 145th in the country, played against other golf programs from around the country, including Michigan (130), Illinois State (109), Coastal Carolina (105) and North Texas (103).
Though the competition was tough, the RedHawks placed fourth out of 11 teams. Miami’s top scorer, Danny Fisher, led the team to their victory, shooting for 207 over three rounds and placing fifth individually.
Fisher has earned a number of accolades during his time at Miami. This past week, Fisher was named Athlete of the Week in the Mid-American Conference (MAC). Over the summer, he played in the US Amateur Championship, his biggest tournament so far. In 2023, Fisher was named to the All-MAC Second Team for the second year in a row. Also this year, he was recognized as an All-American Scholar and named MAC Golfer of the Week twice in March.
His individual achievements stand on their own, but Fisher is more concerned with the RedHawks’ performance as a team this year.
“My individual accomplishments are what they are,” Fisher said. “I care more about the team’s performance. We were disappointed to place fifth in the MAC last year. We lost by 12 shots over three rounds to first place.”
Fisher’s first experience with golf came when his grandfather took him to the course when he was 8 years old. He continued to play basketball, baseball and soccer but started to take golf more seriously when he got to high school. For him, a sport like golf makes the individual player more accountable for their successes and their failures.
“With team sports, you have people you can lean on,” Fisher said. “But with golf, there’s no one to blame your performance on besides yourself.”
When Fisher joined the RedHawks in 2019, he made it his goal to follow in the footsteps of Patrick Flavin, who graduated from Miami in 2018. Flavin is a professional golfer on the PGA tour who grew up in the same area of Chicago as Fisher and has since become a mentor to the current fifth-year marketing major.
On his first visit to campus in the summer before his first year, Fisher met his current coach, JD Fletcher, who was a senior on the team at the time. The two remained close, and Fletcher returned to coach the RedHawks during Fisher’s junior year.
In his first two years at Miami, Fisher started to prove his ability on the course: He appeared in eight tournaments as a first-year and averaged 74.18 strokes per round, the third best average on the team. Despite this, Fletcher knew that Fisher was meant to be greater.
“He hadn’t done a ton before I got here,” Fletcher said. “I thought that a change in leadership was needed for him. He’s grown into an elite-level college player now. The more competitive reps he got, the better he got. He’s probably going to be one of the best players in the conference this year.”
To gain a competitive advantage, Fisher practices mindful meditation each day. Golf is a sport of mental fortitude: If you aren’t calm and calculating, you will miss your shot. Every morning and night, Fisher meditates.
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
“I love going to the driving range, hitting putts and working on technique,” Fisher said, “but you have to be mentally strong too. I don’t think a lot of guys meditate. My mindfulness coach … has been awesome. I’m pretty level-headed on the golf course.”
Fisher’s poise on the course is noticeable to those around him. Fletcher notes that it’s difficult to tell how well he is doing because he doesn’t show emotions on the course.
“He has unbelievable poise compared to other players,” Fletcher said. “He’s able to rebound from underwhelming rounds. He can go from a double one round to a birdie the next. I never know what his score is. He never shows if he’s doing bad or good.”
When the RedHawks placed fifth in the MAC championship last season, they were disappointed. The competition was stacked against them and the team was young, with the lineup consisting of Fisher, fifth-year Jack Ebner, sophomore Sam West and first-year Brett Podobinski. The team also had difficulties with some technical skills as the season progressed.
“Final round scoring was a huge problem for us,” Fletcher said. “Putting was also difficult. We played a lot of Power Five teams. I noticed that those guys hit the ball a lot farther than us. Statistically speaking, if you’re closer to the hole, you’re going to make a lower score most of the time.”
The disappointment in last year’s MAC performance fueled the RedHawks’ determination to improve in the off season, with the goal this year to win the MAC championship for the first time since 2015.
“We didn’t really do goals this year,” Fletcher said. “I explained to the guys what their day-to-day is going to be like, what the standard at Miami golf is and what is expected of them. If we live that out every day, it should add up to a MAC championship. Anything less than a MAC championship this year is a failure.”
In the off season, Fisher has been preparing by practicing his technical skills and playing amateur rounds of golf. Besides practicing for the college season, he played the most important round of golf in his career in the U.S. Amateur, the leading annual golf tournament for amateurs. Fisher qualified out of Chicago, finishing first over 36 holes. Fletcher joined him in Denver for the tournament as his caddy.
While he didn’t play his best, Fisher says that the experience of playing in the U.S. Amateur has given him the confidence to know he can play professionally after college.
“I was more comfortable than I thought, since this was the biggest tournament I’ve ever played in,” Fisher said. “I didn’t play great, especially in the second round. The confidence came afterwards: now that I know I can make it professionally, I know that I belong on the PGA Tour.”
As Fisher enters his last year of eligibility at Miami, he reflects on his favorite memories at Miami, including traveling to downtown New York City last year for a tournament at Liberty National. Fisher also reflects on his performances in previous seasons. For him and Fletcher, this year is the year for Fisher to win the MAC championship.
“I’ve yet to win individually,” Fisher said, “though I’ve had many opportunities. I don’t love setting individual expectations for myself, but if I can work hard each day and get 1% better, that’s fine by me. Team-wise, I think we can do incredible things.”