He finally felt like he belonged.
The greens were tough, and the winds howled. Harsh conditions gave golfers all sorts of problems on a cold October day in West Lafayette, Indiana. University of Nebraska golfer Harry Crockett navigated all of these conditions like a professional.
It was just his third tournament as a Husker, but he had already showcased his talents.
Crockett walked off the 18th green with a final-round 67 (-5) and a third-place finish, both career-bests.
“The feeling I got coming off the course and the support I received from all the guys on the team was great,” he said.
Crockett has been around the game of golf his entire life. After he decided the American college route was the best for him to play professionally, Crockett moved over 4,000 miles away to Hutchinson, Kansas to play junior college golf. He then transferred three hours north to Nebraska, where he will have two years of eligibility. His performance on and off the course will help him achieve his goals. Crockett wants to play professionally and help Nebraska reach the NCAA tournament.
Crockett led his JUCO team, the Hutchinson Blue Dragons, to consecutive national championships. His winding journey now has led him to becoming one of the best golfers in the Big Ten in 2022-23.
Hutchinson is a town of nearly 40,000. The community college enrolls more than 5,000 of those people. It is also over 4,000 miles away from Oxted, England, the birthplace of Crockett.
Oxted sits approximately 18 miles south of London. A train track runs through the small commuter town. As a kid, Crockett said he hit golf balls with his dad and brother with a kid sized 7-iron.
Golf runs in the Crockett family. Harry started playing at the age of five, when his dad took him and his older brother, Charlie Crockett, out to the course.
As he continued to get older, Crockett said he knew that golf would be something he was good enough at to play in college and hopefully professionally. That meant moving to the United States.
“At the age of 16, I knew I wanted to play golf professionally,” Crockett said. “I saw that coming to the U.S. and going through the college system was the best way to do that.”
Charlie Crockett, Harry’s brother, arrived in the U.S. in July 2019. The two brothers competed alongside each other at Hutchinson in 2020-21, as they took home the first of two consecutive NCJAA national titles.
Harry said he cherished the time he was able to spend golfing alongside his brother.
“It was fun playing against Charlie,” he said. “It pushed me to become better because I hated to lose to him. It definitely gave me that drive to make sure I beat him every time I played him.”
Chris Young is in his 23rd year as head men’s golf coach at Hutchinson C.C. Under his tutelage, his program has developed into a JUCO power. He recruited Charlie, which opened the door for Harry to join the team.
“Through Charlie, Harry and I already built a relationship probably even more than you would normally have with a kid if you’re trying to recruit them,” Young said.
Recruiting for golf is different from other sports. Golfers hopeful to play at the next level pay for websites to upload videos to showcase their ability. The same exists in other sports, thanks to Lincoln-based Hudl. College coaches like Young look through these websites for players they think would be a fit.
“When you’re recruiting one player, you don’t necessarily have to go watch them to see how fast they are or how high they jump,” Young said. “All coaches are looking for kids that shoot a certain number.”
Despite his talents, Harry didn’t receive the attention he wanted in recruiting. After he posted his videos on the web service ProDreamUSA, a program with the goal to connect amateur golfers to colleges, he did not hear from any major programs. However, with his brother on his team already, Harry knew his decision would be easy.
“I felt (Hutchinson) was the best school and had the best resources available to me,” he said.
Playing with his brother was a bonus. It helped that the two were among the best nationally in all of JUCO.
Harry instantly became one of the top JUCO golfers upon his arrival. During his two years at Hutchinson, he was a two-time NJCAA District III/Region VI champion and a two-time first-team All-Region VI and first-team All-Jayhawk Conference honoree in 2020-21 and 2021-22.
Along with Harry, Charlie enjoyed a successful run at the school. Charlie was named a Ping First Team All-American in consecutive years and a finalist for the Jack Nicklaus award in 2021.
Young’s squad, led by the Crockett brothers, captured a national championship that season. Charlie, like Harry did a year later, transferred to a major college. Charlie chose the University of Missouri.
Meanwhile, Harry wanted to prove he could do it again.
In 2021-22, he led the team to another national championship and finished as individual runner-up in the tournament. Crockett was also named to the 2021 All-Nicklaus team, which comprised 24 of the best golfers in all of college golf across three levels.
Young has coached hundreds of kids during his tenure. He said Harry will go down as one of his favorites.
“Harry is one of the top five players that have ever played here (at Hutchinson),” Young said. “You’re also not going to find a kid who does the right things (like him).
“He’s a great human being and treats people the right way. He’s going to be successful in golfing and in whatever he chooses to do after that.”
After all these achievements, Harry said he knew that he would have an opportunity to play at a major college. After he was recruited by multiple schools, he chose to sign with Nebraska in April 2022.
In a coaching change, Nebraska head men’s golf coach Judd Cornell took over the program in August. This was two weeks before the beginning of the season. Typically a new coach has to retain committed players, but that was never a problem for Harry and Nebraska.
“I contacted everyone just to introduce myself,” Cornell said. “We never had to (recruit him again) because he never really waivered.”
Cornell said that assistant coach Travis Minzel was also key to keeping the team together. Minzel is in his third season as an assistant and does a bulk of the recruiting.
Harry also said that Minzel was key to him staying on.
“(Travis Minzel) was very good at answering all my questions that I needed answered,” he said. “I also found him to be someone who I would work well with in the team environment.”
Harry instantly joined the Nebraska lineup upon his arrival. He finished 34th in his first action at the Badger Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin in September. While he was happy with his performance, Harry said he knew he could do better.
Harry posted a third place finish and 67 at the Purdue Fall Invitational. He finished his fall slate with an 11th place finish at the White Sands Bahamas Invitational on Oct. 30, where he matched his career-best 67 in the second round.
Harry has also emerged as a leader on and off the course for the Nebraska program in his first season.
“What I’m looking forward to the most is leading this team to the national tournament,” Harry Crockett said. “I’m confident that this team can achieve that.”
He also wants to play golf professionally.
“My main goal is to make it onto the PGA tour,” Harry said. “I’m confident that my time at Nebraska will develop me to the point where I can achieve that goal.”