Collected Wisdom: OSU golf coach Mike McGraw talks about his family, succeeding Mike Holder

COMPILED BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: September 22, 2012
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Initially, I wanted to be a high school coach and I figured what better way to help out the high school team than to start a little farm club (through junior golf)? The EC Hafer Junior Golf Program was a great kind of farm system. You saw which kids were serious about golf, which liked it, which had an aptitude, which were talented and then you'd kind of keep them around that fall and make sure they were taking lessons, practicing and playing.

I understood the awesome responsibility of becoming the OSU men's coach. I was following a legend in Mike Holder (now the school's athletic director). No question about it, he's probably the greatest coaching legend in college golf history. There's been nobody like him. I knew what I was following. I knew what I was getting into. My eyes were wide open. I understood that part, but I also understood the awesome responsibility to do well, to do the right things, to recruit the right kids. I understood all that, so I don't think it was overwhelming.

There's a good stress to being coach here. I get up every day thinking I have to do something good, do it well, do it right. Mike Holder was a good example of that. I had worked for him for seven years as an assistant and one year as the women's coach. He was just a great example of how you did things the right way and, by golly, you have a hard time outworking that guy.

I still feel that responsibility. That's why last year hurt so bad. It wasn't just because of the responsibility to Mike Holder, but to every golfer who ever played at Oklahoma State, from (initial OSU coach) Labron Harris and his memory, to all the people that have supported OSU golf through the years. I at least owe them my best, whatever that is, and that's what I hope I give every day.

I've known Willie Wood (former OSU great who has won two of the last three stops on the Champions Tour) since we were junior golfers. He's never changed from when he was the best college player, the best amateur and a very good tour player. He didn't change when he became a terrible tour player. And when he struggled for years and made almost no money, he was the same guy all the way through – just as friendly as ever, treated my wife (Pam) just as friendly every time he would see her. That's the way he's always been. An amazing guy. Oh my goodness, what he's doing is so exciting.

I think team golf can be contagious. You can get some positive mojo or some negative mojo within the team. Every team is different and every year is different.

I tried as best I could to figure out if everything I was doing was right last season, if it was beneficial for the team. I kind of started taking stock in what we do and how we do it and what we say, that type of thing. But it was probably a little late to resurrect a season that had kind of disintegrated.

The greatest thing I appreciate about Rickie Fowler – and I appreciate a lot of things about him – is I love the way he treats people. He's very genuine, very good, so I want my guys to be the same way in that regard. Rickie's got a great short memory for bad stuff. Bad things have happened. Yeah, they might beat you up for a second, but he gets on to the next thing quicker than any golfer that I've ever known in my life. I like that. I hope we can emulate that as a team this year.

Last year was bad, but we're not going to wallow in that self-pity or be in a cesspool of negativity. I'm not going to be there. I don't want to be there. That's one way to stay there is to kind of wallow around in there. I'm moving on, and I'm trying to get the kids to do the same.

I'm not sure how anybody can ever duplicate (65 straight NCAA appearances) at any level. That's 65 years of competing at the highest level of your competition. That's crazy. But you know what, looking back, we still should have made it last year. That was silly.

I think every golfer is one swing away from being completely confident. Just one swing away, if you can think of it that way.



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