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A Conversation With Sam Puryear, Assistant Head Coach, Stanford University Men’s Golf

A Conversation With Sam Puryear, Assistant Head Coach, Stanford University Men’s Golf

In just his second season at Stanford University, Sam Puryear helped coach the men’s golf team to capture the 2007 NCAA National Championship — a feat that they last accomplished 13 years ago when Tiger Woods was on their team.

Of the 30 teams at the National Championship held earlier this summer in Williamsburg, Va., Puryear, a 1992 graduate and former player for historically Black Tennessee State University, was the only minority coach. And out of a field of about 150 players, there were many teams that had no minorities at all. Puryear spoke with Diverse recently about winning the Championship and minorities in golf.

DI: What led to you coach college golf?

SP: When I was the director of the East Lake Golf Academy, I was training and preparing a lot of kids to play collegiate golf. Next for me was to help kids with their motivation, leadership and life skills at a great university for the next level, which is the PGA Tour.

DI: What was it like coaching the team in the National

SP: College golf is different from all the other collegiate sports because you have to have four guys step up and play their best at the same time for that one week. And it’s tough because if you look at the golf teams that are ranked 50 through 100, I would say that each school has two really good golfers. But when you look at the top 10 schools, those teams have between four and six really good golfers. And on any given day, they can produce.

DI: Some people thought that Tiger Woods’ success and popularity was going to lead to a significant increase in minority participation. What are your thoughts?

SP: I think people put too much pressure on Tiger. It’s not Tiger’s responsibility to get all the Black or minority kids in the country to play golf. No one can do that. People here wanted to see African-Americans really get this Tiger effect. In fact he did it for the world; European kids, Asian kids, they all want to be like Tiger. I’ve dealt with recruits here that were Korean that told me they got interested in golf because they saw Tiger. And they want to go to school where he went to school.

DI: What was it like visiting the White House after you won the Championship?

SP: It was surreal because we were meeting with one of the most powerful men in the world. And he’s a golfer. I respect the sanctity of the Office. And I really respect his Office for having us there. We were there with about 30 other championship teams, and my thought was a lot of those kids in that office are going to go on to be very successful in life.

— By Frank J. Matthews

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