MSUs Bobby Williams
by Steve Grinczel
The 16 years Bobby Williams worked as a football assistant may have prepared him to be the new head coach at Michigan State University, but they didnt do his golf game any favors. I enjoy playing... but its probably the worst thing I do, Williams said as he headed into his first season as the Spartan boss.
Members of the college coaching fraternity are known for the long hours they put in during the season, and the premium they place on the time spent away from the team and recruiting. Golf was never a high priority for Williams.
Lets put it like this, he said. When I had free time, I wasnt running to the golf course. I tried to spend as much time as I could with my family. Golf is going to take four hours out of a day off, if not more, and Ive got little kids. I dont get to see them nearly enough.
Williams was introduced to golf while attending Purdue University on a football scholarship. He hit the links sporadically during assistant coaching stints at Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Kansas and MSU.
Ive been playing golf ever since I started coaching in 83, Williams said. But Ive never mastered the game at all. I dont claim to be an expert.
The demands on Williams outside of football increased exponentially on Dec. 5 when he was promoted from running backs coach to head coach, less than a month before the Spartans defeated Florida in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1. First, there were the speaking engagements. And then, even before the weather in Michigan turned nice, there was an MSU alumni outing in Las Vegas. In the following months, it seemed like every alumni association and organization holding a fund-raiser wanted Williams to be one of their featured personalities.
I play a lot more golf now than I ever did and am invited to a lot more outings, said Williams, who played in about three a month. But you know, it would really help if I was any good, because Im not. A lot of times, Im out there embarrassing myself.
You couldnt prove that by one foursome playing in a scramble event held for sponsors of the Michigan State athletic department last June at the Brookshire Inn & Golf Club in Williamston. The powerfully built Williams, who looks like he could still carry the ball, was the designated driver on the 305-yard No. 1 hole and hit a dead-solid-perfect 275-yard drive for that particular group. Of course, it was Williams first usable shot after spraying numerous attempts into the water and an adjacent fairway.
The biggest difference is the people Im playing with now are a lot better than I am, Williams said of his first summer on the outing circuit as a head coach. I just try to do the best I can.
Years playing golf: 17
Picked up club for the first time: At an introduction to golf class while attending Purdue University. I knew right then and there that I had no future in it.
Brand of clubs now used: Wilson Fat Shafts
Home course: Country Club of Lansing.
Favorite courses in Michigan: Country Club of Lansing; Walnut Hills Country Club; MSUs Forest Akers West; Hawk Hollow; Threetops, the par-3 course at Treetops Resort.
Favorite course in U.S.: Rio Secco Golf Club in Las Vegas
Favorite playing partners: Daughter Nataly (12) and son Nicholas (9), because when I hit a bad shot, they dont even know it.
Low score: 100
Golf highlights: A birdie, after sinking a 30-foot putt, on the par-3 11th at the Country Club of Lansing this summer.
Best players paired with: MSU board of trustee member Joel Ferguson.
Favorite tour player: Tiger Woods.
Best tipx For me? Stick to coaching.
Steve Grinczel covers MSU football for the Booth Newspapers.
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