Memorial Tournament

Muirfield Village Golf Club

The Loop

Coaches who are players too

October 25, 2006

What’s the old saying, those who can’t do, teach? Well the person who professed that claim never saw how today’s college golf coaches can get things done themselves on the golf course.


(EDITOR'S NOTE—Oct. 26, 11:05 p.m.: On Thursday, Oct. 26, Bolger defeated Thuhashini Selvaratna, 5 and 4, in the final to claim the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur title)

The same type of performances happened last month at the men’s Mid-Amateur in Flagstaff, Ariz., where Georgia assistant coach Ryan Hybl lost in the final, Oklahoma State assistant Alan Bratton and St. Mary’s (Calif.) College men’s coach Scott Hardy all made it to the final eight.

“I think getting a chance to play with the team on a regular basis obviously helps keep my game sharp,” professed Bratton, who returned to competition this past summer after getting his amateur status reinstated and won the Oklahoma Amateur. “Plus it can’t help but give you a little confidence when you see yourself hanging in there with some of the best young talent in the game.”

Of course, seeing college coaches perform well when they step to the tee isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon. Perhaps the most famous coach/player if Fred Funk, who was running the men’s program at Maryland in the 1980s only to realize that he was better than any of the players he had, a revelation that caused him to give competitive golf another try. So how did that work out, Mr. 2005 Players Championship winner?

Another famous coach/player is Florida men’s coach Buddy Alexander, who won the U.S. Amateur title in 1986 while coaching LSU.

Recent examples of coaches who’ve show their stuff: Stanford men’s coach Conrad Ray, who qualified for the 2005 U.S. Open, and Illinois men’s coach Mike Small, who won the 2005 PGA of American Club Professional Championship. That victory not only got him into the 2005 PGA Championship but helped him earn spots into nine PGA Tour events this year, where he made the cut four times with a T-38 at the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee being his best finish. Had Small, in his seventh season with the Fighting Illini, played enough rounds to qualify for the various PGA Tour statistics, he would rank 22nd in driving distance, averaging 299 yards off the team.

While tending to her game this week at Old Waverly, Bolger also kept an eye on her squad this week, visiting them at practice Monday after winning her opening-round match. By the end of the day today she had advance to the Women's Mid-Am finals. Suffice it to say coaches these days can apparently teach and do at the same time.