Jack Nasby has always felt that St. Thomas was the perfect fit for him when it came to college. The Tommies senior, a native of Edina, Minnesota, got the perks of living in the metropolitan Minneapolis/St. Paul area while also being able to pursue a double major in finance and real estate with a minor in data analytics. He’ll be connected in the Tommies alumni network within the Twin Cities when he graduates.

And he got to play golf. Now, Nasby gets to check one more box at St. Thomas: Division I college golfer.

St. Thomas previously competed at the NCAA Division III level but beginning this year, will compete in Division I athletics. Nasby had heard the concept discussed as an underclassmen but never dreamed it would come to fruition while he was still on campus. He’s quick to acknowledge how much work it took across the board – from coaches to administrators – to transition St. Thomas from the Division III Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to the Division I Summit League.

“But it is definitely very exciting to get this opportunity to start a new journey,” he said.

Scores: Golfweek Fall Challenge

Nasby and his teammates kicked off the Division I era on Sunday at the Golfweek Fall Challenge. St. Thomas started strong but slid down the leaderboard at the end of the day as its five men played the closing three holes at True Blue Golf Club in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina, in 16 over. Consider that the Tommies were only 19 over for the day.

So much of this season will be new experiences, and that encompasses everything from the teams St. Thomas will compete against to the grass they’ll play on. Nasby is used to Bentgrass in Minnesota, and tried to adapt quickly to the Bermuda at True Blue.

“Biggest different was the grain of the greens, I was paying attention to that with both chipping and putting,” he said.

Interim head coach Sean Barrett said his team has mainly competed in and around Minnesota over the past few seasons. In early qualifying, he tried to prepare his men to compete on longer courses. He tries to set them up from 7,000 yards as much as possible.

“I’d say that we compete – it’s probably 300 yards longer than what we had been competing in,” Barrett said of the yardage jump that came with the division change. “In Minnesota, we just played a lot of different types of courses. I don’t think many would qualify as a championship-style course.

“The quality of the course is much better and there’s certainly more length.”

St. Thomas men's golf
St. Thomas men's golf

St. Thomas men’s golf is competing at the Division I level for the first time this fall. (Golfweek photo/Landon Ringler)

St. Thomas was a regular at the Division III National Championship, qualifying eight times over the past 11 years. Barrett was once in that boat, having played three years for the Tommies after transferring from Iowa State after his freshman season.

Now, Barrett works in financial planning. After graduating from St. Thomas in 2010, he bounced around mini tours before returning to the Twin Cities and coaching a high school golf team. Mounds Park Academy in St. Paul won three state titles at the Class 1A level from 2014 to 2018 while Barrett had the reins.

While coaching at Mounds Park, Barrett also started to pitch in for former St. Thomas coach Scott Proshek.

“Coaching has always been something I loved and enjoyed doing,” he said.

Barrett has talked with his men about playing the same course as everyone else – now there’s just a smaller margin for error and more travel time. St. Thomas will round out the fall with starts at the Drake Invite and Omaha Invite. Also on the new schedule? South Dakota State’s annual spring event in Las Vegas.

“We just know that if we want to have the success we had at the Division III level, we have to keep raising the bar on what our personal expectations are and refine our game to match,” he said.

Let the new era continue.