Utley ready to give back to MU golf

PGA Tour pro joins the Tigers’ staff as a volunteer assistant.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:28 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Missouri men’s golf coach Mark Leroux is looking to give his program an “incredible boost” with the newest addition to his coaching staff.

Leroux announced Feb. 9 that MU alum Stan Utley, a PGA Tour veteran and respected golf instructor, will join the team as a volunteer assistant. The move is the culmination of what Leroux said was mutual interest since he was named coach in the fall.

“When I first came to school, Stan and I spoke and he was insistent that if there were any way he could help out that he wanted to,” Leroux said.

Utley, 43, graduated from MU in 1984 and joined the PGA Tour in 1989.

“The University of Missouri has meant a whole lot to me and opened a bunch of doors, and (former) coach Richard Poe has been someone in my life who’s helped me make life decisions and golf decisions along the way,” Utley said. “I think kids need that.”

NCAA rules limit the participation a professional can have with a golf program, but adding Utley to the staff eliminates those restrictions. Utley is free to work with MU’s golfers anytime.

Utley’s exact role has not been decided, but Utley said he can see traveling to Missouri at least two times a year to work with players. He will also be available in Arizona if any players need to “escape the cold.”

“If I’m visiting Missouri or someone’s visiting Arizona, it’s OK for (me and the player) to hang out,” Utley said.

One area where Utley and Leroux expect Utley to make a big impact is in recruiting. Utley cannot recruit off-campus for the program until he takes the NCAA recruiting exam, but Leroux said that will probably happen during one of Utley’s trips to Missouri. Utley is free to recruit on-campus for MU as often as he wants.

“From a recruiting standpoint, there’s no telling how much it would cost to spend an hour with Stan Utley,” Leroux said. “For kids to be able to come to Mizzou and spend time with him is priceless. You can’t put a value on it.”

Utley said he has already seen opportunities where his connections and reputation could help in recruiting. He said he was working with an instructor who teaches young players from Europe and that now he can sell Missouri to those players through his contacts.

“This instructor teaches half a dozen really good players and some of them are coming to the states to play golf,” Utley said. “They might not have heard of Missouri before but now they have.”

Leroux said Utley’s forte is teaching short-game skills, and recalled being impressed with his teaching at the PGA’s teaching summit in January. He said Utley’s two-hour session was too crowded to watch.

“I didn’t appreciate the magnitude of where he was, but watching the pros flock to him I was floored,” Leroux said. “That’s his passion. He loves what he does, and he loves to help people with their golf game.”

Utley said he and Leroux have not had a chance to talk about anything other than making him a part of the team, but now that he is, he expects to communicate more frequently with Leroux and begin determining his role.

Leroux said he is ready to start the process.

“Certainly, to have somebody of his stature in the playing and teaching ranks to be available to help you out, even if it is at limited intervals and a limited amount of time, is awesome,” Leroux said.

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