Balicki: Cal's Desimone deserving of Lemmon Award

Cal coach Steve Desimone during the 2011 NCAA Championship.

Cal coach Steve Desimone during the 2011 NCAA Championship.

Men's Rankings »

RankNameSchoolRating
1Joey GarberGeorgia  68.61 
2Robby SheltonAlabama  68.62 
3Patrick RodgersStanford  68.67 
4Ollie SchniederjansGA Tech  68.81 
5Cameron WilsonStanford  69.05 

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1Alabama 68.92 
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3Georgia Tech 69.62 
4Oklahoma State 69.72  10 
5California 69.81  11 

I always enjoy reading or seeing something good happen to someone good.

That was certainly the case this week when I read about California coach Steve Desimone -- truly one of the good guys in college golf -- and his latest recognition and honor.

Desimone learned Wednesday evening that the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association named him recipient of the organization’s annual Jack Lemmon Ambassador of Golf Award.

He will be among the honorees at the 54th annual awards banquet on Feb. 5, 2013 at The Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, Calif. It’s the week of the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

The CGWBA first presented the award -- then known simply as the Ambassador of Golf Award -- in 1981 with Chi Chi Rodriguez as the inaugural recipient. Lemmon was honored in 1985 and after the movie star passed away his name was included.

Among players who have received the honor are Fuzzy Zoeller, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Ben Crenshaw, Billy Andrade and Brad Faxon. Included on the list of celebrity recipients are Clint Eastwood, Charles Schulz, Glenn Campbell, Huey Lewis, Ely Callaway, John Brodie and Frank Chirkinian.

Desimone becomes the first golf coach to be honored.

“I’m not speechless very often, but I am very humbled by being selected for this wonderful award,” Desimone said in a press release. “All you have to do is look at the recipients that have preceded me to know how special this award is. Jack Lemmon was one of the truly great guys in the world of golf and certainly in the movie industry. Being selected for an honor in his name, it really doesn’t get much better than that.”

The CGWBA will be joined at the gala banquet by the Northern California Golf Association for its annual Hall of Fame induction. The NCGA Hall of Fame Class of 2013 (still to be announced) also will be honored.

Desimone is currently in his 34th season at the Cal men’s golf helm. He guided the Bears to the 2004 NCAA title and was named Golfweek’s National Coach of the Year that season.

He was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the second time after the 2011-12 campaign, arguably the best season in school history. The Bears advanced to the semifinals at the NCAA after a season in which they won both the Pac-12 and NCAA Region championships. Cal posted six wins, which doubled the previous record, and finished in the top five 14 times.

Desimone, who was inducted into the Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010, has the Bears on even a more impressive path this season. Cal won all five of its starts this past fall and currently is No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings.

At last summer’s U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills Golf Club in Denver, four of Cal’s top five players reached the match play round of 64. Michael Weaver would go on to reach the championship match; Brandon Hagy made the semifinals; Max Homa the Round of 32; and Michael Kim the Round of 64.

The CGWBA couldn’t have made a better choice for this year’s award. Desimone is truly one of the game’s leading ambassadors, not only for his university and his state, but for golf itself.

It’s great to see good things happen to good people.

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