Replacing a legend is never an easy task, no matter the field, no matter the sport.
Mike McGraw is about to get his chance.
McGraw, 45, replaced Mike Holder as Oklahoma State men’s golf coach Oct. 6, becoming only the third coach in the Cowboys’ illustrious history.
“This is a dream job come true,” said McGraw, who guided the Cowboys to a third-place finish last month at the season-opening Golfweek/Ping Preview in Sunriver, Ore. “When I first went to Oklahoma State, I never thought something like this would happen. I guess I just figured Coach Holder would coach forever. Now that it has happened, I’m excited to say the least. Of course, I have some mighty big shoes to fill.”
And the man who made the hire was Holder, who oversaw the program for 32 years before being named OSU’s vice president for athletic programs and director of intercollegiate athletics last month.
Holder, who won eight national championships and more than 175 tournaments, became the coach on July 1, 1973 following the retirement of Labron Harris Sr., who started the program in 1947.
Quipped Holder: “The good news is Mike got his dream job. Maybe the bad news is I’m the athletics director, so I’m still his boss. . . .
“I have a lot of confidence in Mike. He has a great strength of character and a very strong work ethic. He relates well with the players, and he knows what has to be done to be successful.”
McGraw was Holder’s assistant for seven years before being named head coach of the OSU women’s team last season. Prior to arriving at Oklahoma State, McGraw was golf coach at Edmond (Okla.) North High (1994-97), where his teams won three state titles in four seasons.
McGraw was a three-time golf letterman for the University of Central Oklahoma and an NAIA honorable mention All-American in 1981.
“I know what Coach Holder’s expectations are, and he’s told me he expects me to be better,” McGraw said. “He told me he wants the program to be better. Everyone (in college golf) is getting better, and so we have to do the same.
“To some people it may seem like a high-pressure situation, and it is, but the way I look at it the biggest fan I have is my athletic director. I’ve learned so much from Coach Holder over the years, but I also realize I need to be my own man now.”
Holder promised he won’t constantly be looking over McGraw’s shoulder.
“This is his team now,” Holder said. “I’m too busy with too many other things. I don’t have time for golf. I tell everyone that for 57 years I didn’t have a real job. Well, now I have one, and it requires all of my time.”