The past 11 months have been difficult for Logan McAllister.
He lost his swing.
He lost his lineup spot.
He lost his confidence.
But Tuesday at Pumpkin Ridge, the Oklahoma sophomore’s journey back from near obscurity finally reached its renaissance. In one of the toughest events of the season, the Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational, McAllister won his first college tournament since November 2018 in wire-to-wire fashion, besting Vanderbilt standout John Augenstein by a shot and topping a field that included All-Americans Cole Hammer of Texas, Austin Eckroat of Oklahoma State and Trent Phillips of Georgia.
“It’s big for the confidence after being off that much time,” said McAllister, who shot 65-67-70 to finish at 11 under and help the Sooners to a four-shot team victory over Wake Forest. “When you’re away for that long, there are some doubts in your head, you don’t really know if you can still compete.”
McAllister was a prized recruit for Oklahoma coach Ryan Hybl last fall before he compiled a respectable 71.22 scoring average in three starts his first semester. But after McAllister tied for 33rd at the Sooners’ fall finale in Hawaii, he sat down with Hybl and they decided that he needed to re-tool his game, particularly his swing.
For years, McAllister played a roping draw, getting the club super laid off at the top, bringing it down way inside and then hitting significantly up and out at the ball. Often times, his swing path would reach as much as plus-7 degrees.
“You could go to your local country club and see about 10 guys on the range with that path, but none of them could break 100,” McAllister said. “It was a miracle that I was even in the position I was in swinging like that.”
McAllister started working with Ryan Rody, director of instruction at Southern Hills, last winter. Rody, who also teaches Oklahoma players Garett Reband and Quade Cummins, helped McAllister tear down his wildly inconsistent swing and build it back up.
The process, however, was tedious. McAllister didn’t tee it up for the Sooners at all last spring. While his teammates were competing, the freshman often spent hours alone at the team’s practice facility trying to hone his new swing.
“He was getting beat down a lot,” Hybl said. “College golf is hard when you’re not playing. But he knew that he wasn’t ready to be playing, either; his game just was not there.”
Late in the season, however, Hybl made the decision to allow McAllister to travel with the team, beginning with the Big 12 Championship. While technically the team’s sub for regionals and nationals, McAllister never hit a shot, but the experience proved invaluable.
Each round, Hybl would have McAllister follow a different teammate and pay attention to certain aspects of that player’s game. The freshman would take notes and report back to Hybl what he had learned.
“I can’t say enough about how much just being at those events meant to me,” McAllister said. “For one, I don’t think I’d be where I am right now if it wasn’t for that just because I was able to see stuff that you kind of notice when you’re playing with guys but you notice it so much more when you’re sitting there watching every shot.
“I learned something every single minute I was out there.”
McAllister had an unspectacular summer but did manage to score a top-10 finish at the Monroe Invitational. When he arrived back on campus, he had shown improvement, though it still wasn’t enough to crack the lineup for Oklahoma’s first two fall events.
But after McAllister returned from a lesson with Rody two weeks ago, Hybl noticed a significant change.
“You could see it immediately,” Hybl said.
McAllister went out and won the team’s four-round qualifier for the Nike. He then opened the tournament in 6-under 65 and recorded just two bogeys in his first 36 holes. With three holes to play Tuesday, McAllister was tied with Reband at 11 under while Augenstein was in the clubhouse at 10 under – but it was Reband, a senior, who bogeyed his final two holes, while McAllister made three clutch pars to win by a shot.
“That feeling of being in contention, it’s one that I’ve had before but I haven’t had in a while,” McAllister said. “It was definitely pretty nerve-racking coming down the stretch, but those are the kind of nerves that you want, that’s why you play golf, so it was fun getting to feel that again because it’s been a long time.”
McAllister admitted that his victory was unexpected. Moving forward, though, it would be of little surprise to see the sophomore firmly establish his place on an NCAA title contender.
“He’s a big-time player, we’ve known that for a while, but I don’t know if he quite had the tool set that he needed,” Hybl said. “For him to go back and re-work everything and now do this, I’m really pumped for him. I imagine his confidence is going to be sky high after this and hopefully he just takes off.”
McAllister has rediscovered his confidence.
His lineup spot? That, too.
And his revamped swing, well, it’s looking pretty good at the moment.