How to build a golf program
There's strength in numbers. Well, at least Steve Myhro hopes so.
The Rochester Mayo girls golf coach has built one of the state's biggest programs, boasting a whopping 42 golfers this spring.
The Spartans are coming off of a Big Nine Conference title, and they return five golfers who averaged fewer than 100 strokes per 18 holes last season.
The incredible numbers throughout the Mayo program didn't just fall into Myhro's lap. While other programs are struggling to fill out a full varsity team, Myhro has spent his time recruiting at the elementary and middle-school levels.
It's helped that Myhro is a sixth-grade teacher at Willow Creek. It's also helped that Myhro is one of the nicest guys around. And he's received an assist from another nice guy — Eastwood Golf Course head professional Jeff Gorman.
"Jeff has always been fantastic and very supportive," Myhro said. "With the numbers we have, Jeff could have said no, that he just couldn't accommodate us. But he said, 'Bring it on.'"
Despite all the hard work building up the Spartans program and promoting the sport of golf for the past 16 years, Myhro still is amazed at Mayo's numbers this spring.
"It floors me, really," he said. "When I started 16 years ago, I could maybe field a team of 10 or 12. Here I am with 42, and it's overwhelming. But I'll always continue to promote the sport. We're trying to get more kids out at Century and John Marshall as well."
A little help
With so many golfers, Myhro turned to Mayo activities director Jeff Whitney this offseason, asking for a full-time assistant. That's a rarity in this time of tight school budgets. But Whitney gave Myhro the go-ahead, and Cathy Ruedinger joined the staff as Myhro's assistant. Beth Loftus, Kula Shives and Jen O'Hara will help, too, as volunteer assistants.
"I had been running around like a mad man the last few years, even with numbers in the 30s," Myhro said. "Luckily, (Whitney) came through. That's big. With that many golfers, even at two minutes per golfer, that's over an hour each day. Cathy is great, and she has coaching experience, plus she's a very skilled golfer."
Signing up a full coaching staff also is crucial because there are 14 new golfers on the team. Those newcomers have littler or no playing experience.
"Those are kids who are beginners, so we're spending a lot of time on things like etiquette," Myhro said. "But I enjoy it. I enjoy all aspects, and I love introducing people to the game."
Sticking with it
With 42 golfers on the roster, that means most of those players never will play in a varsity meet. Despite that fact, Myhro has had a high success rate of keeping golfers with the program, even though they're not competing at the varsity level. He said several seniors on this team haven't been varsity golfers, but they've stuck with it.
"I'm a coach, so I'm competitive and it's fun to win, but that's not what it's all about," Myhro said. "I want the kids to experience being part of a team, and I want them to keep golfing throughout their lives."
Winning is something Myhro hopes does come with the numbers this season. He returns the bulk of last year's Big Nine title team, including state qualifier Katrina Ruedinger (87 stroke average), Ariana Shives (90) and Courtney Hruska (93).
"We won the conference last year and have the team back, so I'm sure we're favored to win again," Myhro said. "I'm just excited to get started. This is a hard-working group and they have a lot of fun. And I think that's going to lead to success on the course."