GCAA convention covers range of topics
LAS VEGAS – This and that from this year’s Golf Coaches Association of America’s annual convention:
• First, and on a more personal note, I have to talk about the GCAA Hall of Fame dinner. That’s because for the first time I was a key part of it, being the first non-golf coach to be elected for induction. What an honor.
And what an evening. It was made even more special by having my wife Debbie on hand for the ceremony as well as my brother Walt and his son Craig. There also were some special friends who honored me by their presence at my table and all the golf coaches and people attending who offered so many kind words of congratulations.
It’s a night I will always remember, as I know it is for the coaches who also were inducted and to all those who received special awards.
I certainly was honored to be joining coaches Steve Desimone (California), Kyle Blazer (Oklahoma City), Mike Carlisle (South Carolina-Aiken), Bob Alpers (St. John’s, Minn.), Bobby Cornett (Texas Wesleyan) and Floyd Horgan (Centenary and Brevard Community College) in this year’s induction class.
And then to share this special evening with former California State-Stanislaus coach Jim Hanny, who will receive the GCAA’s Honor Award and the Friends of Golf (FOG), the first organization to earn the GCAA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Boy, was it great to see my old friend and former UCLA coach Eddie Merrins again.
Who said you have to go to Disney World to experience a little bit of magic?
• This was the second consecutive year the GCAA held it’s convention in Las Vegas and what a success it was. More than 200 coaches were on hand – the most ever – and the Hall of Fame dinner attracted some 350 attendees, also a GCAA record.
In addition, some 60 companies took part in the Tuesday night corporate sponsors exhibits presentation.
So, with that in mind, the GCAA’s National Advisory Board voted to bring the convention back to Vegas for at least the next two years. Dates and details have not been finalized, but look for it to take place again around the first part of December.
• Tim Poe, head coach at Central Missouri, was named the coach for the 2011 U.S. Palmer Cup team. Poe, a Division II Dave Williams Award winner as national coach of the year, has coached the men’s golf program at Central Missouri for the past 20 years.
The 2011 Palmer Cup, a Ryder Cup-style competition staged between college players from the U.S. and those of Europe will take place June 9-11 at The Stanwich Club in Greenwich, Conn., which hosted the 2002 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.
It also was announced that the 2012 Palmer Cup will take place at Royal County Down Golf Club in Ireland, site of the 2007 Walker Cup Match.
• This year’s convention featured a host of enlightening and inspirational speakers and presentations. Heading the list was World Golf Hall of Famer and current NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller, who recalled his collegiate playing days at BYU as well as the PGA Tour. His stories were both entertaining and informative and his 30-plus minute Q&A session drew plenty of input from those in attendance. He was a big hit to say the least.
Peter McEvoy, an outstanding player in his own right and two-time captain of victorious Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup teams, spoke about what makes golfer’s great Major Dan Rooney, a PGA member and active pilot, talked about the Folds of Honor Foundation, which he founded as a non-profit organization that provides post-secondary educational scholarship for children and spouses of military men and women disabled or killed while serving our nation. His stories of war were real and emotional. He brought everyone up to date on Patriot Golf Day, held over Labor Day weekend at public, private and resort clubs around the nation to raise funds for Folds of Honor.
Longtime USGA rules official John Reis brought to light many of the more frequent rules questions that college players encounter. In addition, he asked each coach present to complete a 19-question rules quiz, and followed by explaining each of the multiple choice answers. A few coaches answered all the questions correctly and some missed only a few. As for yours truly, I think I need the Rules 101 workshop.
Washington coach Matt Thurmond headed a Pace of Play session and talked about his Under 4 project – which is a push to complete college rounds in four hours or less. He offered suggestions on how to accomplish this and welcomed coaches to contact him for a list of things that can be done, including play when ready on tees and in fairways, walk quickly, make the course more playable, post signs on each tee reminding participants of pace of play, and encourage rules officials to be more interactive with the players. Thurmond said the Under 4 concept was used at three tournaments this past fall and they had an overall place of play between 3:57 and 4:15.
“I don’t believe every tournament will be under four hours, but do feel that the four hours area is attainable,” Thurmond said. “Our mission is to get the game back to four hours or under. What we want to do is make it fun to play quickly. I’ve talked to a lot of coaches and so far have received some good, positive feedback. Hopefully, more tournaments and coaches will stress this in the future.”
In addition, Mike Malaska presented a session on Coaching Coaches, Corey Ciocchetti on Inspiring Integrity, and representatives from Golf Pride, Mitchell Golf and True Temper discussed Golf Equipment 101.
• Stephen Clar of NCAA Academic and Membership Affairs brought to light a number of compliance issues as well as some of the proposals relating to golf that will go before the NCAA, including a possible recruiting calendar for golf. This subject took up an entire afternoon session and produced plenty of feedback from coaches. The GCAA will submit a consensus of coaches’ ideas and suggestions to the NCAA Recruiting Cabinet, which will meet in February and examine all the feedback from all sports involved.
Overall, in my opinion, this year’s GCAA convention was one of the best ever, if not the best. It contained excellent speakers, informative sessions and, most of all, a great deal of participation from those coaches present.
And, oh yea, did I mention that Hall of Fame Awards dinner?