New golf coach looks forward to ‘dream’ job

Scott Swanson

Pat Davis says he has been playing golf longer than he can remember, but it’s always been for fun.

Now, though, he’s got what he says is a “dream” job: coaching high school golf at Sweet Home.

Davis has been a teacher at Sweet Home since 2002 and has done a lot of coaching at the junior high and freshman levels in various sports.

He played “all the sports” – football, basketball, baseball – in high school in his hometown of Omaha, Neb. before moving on to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. But never golf.

“Golf has always been a side passion for me,” he said, recalling how he used to scrape together the 50 cents it cost to play a municipal nine-hole course five blocks down the street from his childhood home. Later, he and his buddies would caddy in the mornings to make enough money to play in the afternoon.

“It was super cheap,” he said. “ I played every day. If we didn’t have 50 cents , my friends and I would caddy in the morning and play in the afternoon. It was my summer job.

His first set of golf clubs came from one of his early basketball coaches, who gave him a set of used junior clubs.

“That’s how I cut my teeth.”

This year Davis is taking over the Husky program from Ken Anderson, who coached for the past two years before resigning because of work conflicts.

“My dream job was to be a teaching golf pro,” he said. “Being a golf coach is kind of a dream come true. It’s a blessing to be out on the course, four nights a week.”

Going into his first season with the Huskies, Davis knows he has some challenges.

The Huskies have not been to state in three years and the last Sweet Home girl to qualify for the state golf tournament was Chelsea Gagner in 2006, who is now in her first year of teaching language arts at Sweet Home Junior High.

“One of the biggest problems is that we don’t have an accessible golf course,” he said. “When our players are young, someone has to drive them to Mallard Creek and then drive them home. That’s an hour of driving. Mallard has great facilities, but if a kid can’t drive, it’s darn near impossible.”

He said Mallard Creek General Manager and Head Golf Pro Mark Tunstill and Steve Hill, the pro there, offer “incredible” deals to student golfers wanting to work on their game – $99 for an annual pass that allows them to play any time they want

“It’s a pretty inexpensive way for a kid to get out, to get reps in,” Davis said, noting that one Lebanon High School team member gets out to the course on a “moped-type scooter” with his clubs strapped to his back. “It’s an awesome deal for our kids. They can just play, play, play.”

Davis said he’s working on putting together a summer golf program, with transportation, that would feature daily clinics, to help get some critical mass going in the Husky golf program.

“We need those sixth, seventh, eighth-graders to be playing before they get to high school,” he said. “That’s how you learn to play golf.”

The value of the game extends to the business world and provides structure for long-lasting family ties, he said.

After graduating from college, he and some partners opened a Valentino’s Pizza franchise in Rochester, Minn., and Davis said he used to play golf with his business suppliers.

“The cool thing about golf is that it’s a sport you can play your entire life,” hesaid. “My dad and my two brothers play in a men’s league in Omaha. Every Monday night they play together, along with guys I grew up with. The high point of my summer is my trip back there, which I always schedule around two Mondays, so I can get two rounds in with them every summer.”