Combine these factors, and the 2001 spring season has all the makings of a proverbial "rebuilding" year for North Carolina's men's golfers. There's just one problem.
They don't want to wait until next year.
Last spring, North Carolina struggled, failing to win a single tournament. But the team peaked at the right time.
Carried by the gritty play of seniors Max Harris and Brad Tyler, the team finished strong, placing 10th at the NCAA Championships in Opelika, Ala.
Harris and Tyler have since traded their drivers for diplomas, leaving two pressing questions: Is there enough talent left on this team for an encore performance? If so, are they battle-tested enough to compete with top teams like Clemson and Georgia Tech?
By and large, UNC coach John Inman says yes.
"We are not afraid of these teams," the third-year coach said. "We are very competitive and can compete with these guys."
Much of the pressure of ensuring the team's success lies squarely on the lean frame of newcomer Dustin Bray.
Bray, a freshman from Asheboro, immediately cracked the UNC starting lineup last fall and currently holds the team's No. 1 position. Bray competed in all five of North Carolina's fall tournaments, leading the Tar Heels in scoring four times and managing to finish in the top 20 three times.