Ingram leading Team Canada to new heights
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – As a kid growing up in rural Winnipeg, Derek Ingram was told he was never good enough or was too young to join his family at the golf course.
He practiced with an old wooden-shafted club at the playground until he improved. He wanted to be the next Jim Doyle, the only Manitoban to win the Canadian Amateur at the time.
Ingram was in love with the game.
After returning home from a stint at a junior college in the United States, Ingram thought he was going to go to pharmaceutical school and not become a golf teacher like he had always dreamed.
PHOTOS: 2014 U.S. Amateur (FINALS)
View images from Sunday's 2014 U.S. Amateur finals at Atlanta Athletic Club.
But that wasn't in his heart.
“I was always drawn to teaching and coaching,” Ingram said. “I wanted to carve a niche there.”
And he has.
At the age of 23, he became the youngest head golf pro in all of Canada.
Although he loved teaching, he gave that up after three years to instead chase playing the game as a professional.
He played on the Canadian Tour, but it never really worked out, pushing him back to teaching. He noticed that there was a coaching position open with Golf Canada, and hasn’t looked back since.
At 44, Ingram has had three different stints with Golf Canada’s national teams.
He started as an assistant with the men before moving over to lead the women's team. Just more than three years ago, he headed back to the men's team to take over for Henry Brunton as head coach.
Ingram helps Golf Canada's players with everything – on and off the course, including coordinating schedules, swing technique and off-course workouts.
“The biggest thing probably in the summer is support at tournaments,” said Ingram, who has been involved the national program for about 12 years. “Helping them do all the right things throughout, before and after the tournaments.”
The supportive relationships Ingram has instilled for years have grown to be something he will cherish for a lifetime.
“It’s been a lot of fun being involved with coaching,” Ingram said. “I honestly believe that people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. To me, coaching is about a relationship between a player and coach and it takes time to build that relationship or else there will be no coaching or learning in that. I spend a lot of time building that relationship and it’s all about timing. It’s not about knowledge.
"Sure it is to a certain extent, but it's honestly about timing. Saying things at the right time, and maybe sitting on it at the right time when it’s appropriate.”
And it goes both ways. Both Corey Conners, the 2014 U.S. Amateur runner-up, and Taylor Pendrith, a member of the national team who caddied for Conners at Atlanta Athletic Club, could not stop raving about their head coach.
“He’s an awesome coach, but even better guy,” Pendrith said. “It’s pretty awesome. He really knows his stuff about the game of golf.”
“He just relaxes us,” Conners said. “He tries to not let us think about what this tournament entails. We just try to have fun.”
For Ingram, the best part of coaching is seeing his players be successful – not only on the course, but off it as well.
“The best part is seeing a guy like Corey or Taylor or Garrett (Rank) or Adam (Svensson) or Chris (Hemmrich), any of our guys, who work extremely hard and put in the hours. It’s a lonely existence for the most part, but to see results like this,” Ingram said. “Seeing those guys get rewarded for their hard work is the best part. Secondly, I guess, is just developing the relationship and the bonds with these guys we’ll have forever."
Another goal for Ingram is to see Canada to get back on the map in the golf world. Mike Weir was the 2003 Masters champion, and Graham DeLaet and Brad Fritsch are relevant on the PGA Tour today. So Canada's success at the U.S. Amateur this week creates more buzz for the game up north.
"Timing is everything," said Ingram.