Wally Goodwin, who coached Tiger Woods at Stanford, is dead at 94

Hall of Fame golf coach Wally Goodwin passed away on Monday.

Goodwin, 94, who started college golf programs at Northwestern (1981-87) and Northern Colorado (2003-07), was best known for his 13-year stint at Stanford University, during which time he returned the program to national prominence.

“Stanford Golf and the world of college athletics lost an icon,” Stanford men’s golf coach Conrad Ray said in announcing his passing. “Coach Goodwin had a profound impact on so many young student-athletes over the years, including myself. He was not only a legendary coach, but also a man of character, hard work and total positivity, which carried over to everything he was involved in.”

Goodwin recruited the likes of Tiger Woods, Notah Begay III, Joel Kribel and Casey Martin. Stanford won a national title under Goodwin in 1994, its first since 1953, and was runner-up a year later when Woods joined the program.

“Coach Goodwin encouraged and embraced the individuality of his players which allowed us to mature into successful young men!” Begay told Golfweek. “He saw potential in me and for that I’m eternally grateful!

Wally Goodwin and Stanford men’s golf (Stanford photo)

He was named national coach of the year in 1992 and 1994 and Pac-10 coach of the year twice. He guided Stanford to a pair of conference championships and in recognition for just how much he meant to the program, the school in 2014 renamed the annual college golf tournament that it hosts The Goodwin.

“Wally was a wonderful human being,” said Martin, who is now the head men’s golf coach at the University of Oregon. “Kind. Warm. Fun to be around. He made such a positive impact on everyone, including me. I loved him and will miss him.”

Thanks coach Goodwin for giving a Native American kid from New Mexico a chance! I will forever be grateful and will miss you! Rest easy you old cowboy!! #CardinalPride #94NationalChampions https://t.co/MbH8yHPQE5

— Notah Begay III (@NotahBegay3) July 20, 2021

He retired in 2000, but was wooed back to be the golf coach at Northern Colorado and within two and a half years his team won the National Championship for Independent Universities. Yet for all his success in nearly 50 years in sports administration and coaching, Goodwin thought of himself as “just another coach.”

“I was a lucky guy,” Goodwin, who was inducted into 10 halls of fame, told NCGA Golf Magazine in 2019, “in the right place at the time.”

Goodwin enjoyed the final years of his life in Hailey, Idaho, with his wife of more than 65 years, Nancy, to be closer to their two sons and four grandchildren.

Prior to working in college sports, Goodwin served as athletic director from 1969-78 at Stevenson School in Pebble Beach, California. He coached baseball, basketball, football and boys golf, where Bobby Clampett led the team to a title in 1977.

“I thought the kids in golf were the best kids I had in terms of putting out an effort to be champions,” he told NCGA Golf.

Prior to coming to Stevenson, Wally had stints at the Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs and in Hudson, Ohio at both Western Reserve Academy and Hudson High School. And so began a legendary career.

“I had so many great moments,” he said when asked to name his best moment as a coach in 2019. “I honestly don’t feel like I was the reason for our guys having good teams. I never really felt that way. I was just another coach, a lucky guy.”

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