History Links Legendary Coach to Replacement

March 5, 2014 — Leave a comment

(Ed. Note: This piece was originally featured in the Winter 2014 issue of SWEAT Magazine, by the title Changing of the Guard.)

 

 

By Jared PD Clinton

There’s an old adage, generally used when an athlete moves on in their careers, that the contributions they had made to their team can’t be measured.

However, if one were to try and measure the impact Mike Duggan had on the Durham Lords golf program, they could start with the coach’s five OCAA gold medals. Then his overseeing of seven individual gold medalists and four national champions, or you could look to his ability to turn a student into the next to take over the program he loved so dearly.

The mark Mike Duggan made on the Durham Lords golf program won’t end with him – it will continue on through Tyler Martin. He’s the new head coach of the program, one of Duggan’s former pupils, and attributes much of his success to his experiences under Duggan at Durham.

“This program was huge for me,” says Martin, 28, a former Canadian Tour professional. “I certainly never would have turned pro if I hadn’t played on the golf team at Durham. It was the kick in the pants that I needed, and it made me realize that maybe I did have a shot to go pro.”

“I certainly never would have turned pro if I hadn’t played on the golf team at Durham. It was the kick in the pants that I needed, and it made me realize that maybe I did have a shot to go pro.”

Martin, who played on the pro tour for four years before moving on to a career in his family’s construction business, said he never saw the opportunity to be back with the Lords coming. It was a message from his former coach that brought him in, and Martin couldn’t believe it when he read it.

“When I first read it, I was very surprised. I thought Mike would never give it up. He just loved it so much. I remember my first reaction was, like, ‘Are you serious?’ I volunteered while I was around and on the tour, but I think Mike knew I had some interest in getting involved and giving back,” says Martin.

Duggan was right in his hunch. Duggan – who says it was time for him to step down in order to spend more time with Ethan, his 13-year-old son – said Martin always offered to lend a hand.

“He’s always been involved. To me, it was a no brainer. If Ty didn’t accept [the head coaching position], I’d probably still be coaching. He was the ideal candidate. We had the same philosophy, and he was a great fit,” says Duggan.

Duggan’s success as an OCAA coach didn’t really come around until the mid-aughts when Martin arrived at Durham. To hear Duggan
speak about Martin is to hear a coach talk about his former student with utmost respect. The choice of Martin for the next head coach meant just as much to Duggan. “It’s special because he was my captain for three years. He’s a great young man. He had a lot of potential and it showed on the course by winning all those awards. It wasn’t only that, it was his success on and off the course,” says Duggan.

“It’s special because he was my captain for three years. He’s a great young man. He had a lot of potential and it showed on the course by winning all those awards. It wasn’t only that, it was his success on and off the course,” says Duggan.

Don Shaw is a former player who played for Duggan and assistant coach Martin. While sometimes a coach can only be as good as the players on their roster, what both Martin and Shaw praise was Duggan’s ability to let them prepare mentally.

“As a coach, he was a bit behind the scenes. He wasn’t in the golf industry. He wasn’t trying to change our swing or give us lessons. He was getting us ready for the round, for that given day, for that tournament. He coached that style,” says Martin.

Shaw, who has been friends with Martin since childhood and caddied for him while he was on the professional tour, said Tyler and he used similar strategies in coaching up the fresh faces.

“We’re very player first, so we allow the kids to make all their own decisions,” says Shaw. “We just try to help them when they want help, the same way Mike would. Other than that, whether they want to ask us for help or not, that’s up to them. We’re around the course and there for them, and Mike was that way.”

Martin not only agreed with Shaw, but added the mental aspects of the game are what can plague golfers the most. If anything, Martin wants to guide his students in the ways they prepare for a round.

Craig Conroy, a second-year player who was coached by both Martin and Duggan, says the similarities are apparent.

“They  have very similar coaching styles – but Tyler brought a different element to the team. Tyler could relate to our age, and relate to playing in the tournaments as well,” says Conroy.

Despite Martin’s ability to relate to the current players on the team, he admits he struggled during the early stages of his pro career. “I did it the hard way when I turned pro. So as far as learning how to prepare for a round, doing what works for you specifically, I thought I had to be like Tiger Woods and I changed everything that got me to that point. I regressed and I wasn’t playing well. I want to tell them to do what they want to do to prepare, and to have confidence in themselves.”

It’s clear that Duggan’s teachings had an impact on Martin’s attitude towards the game, as Duggan says his own approach was hands off and to teach the golfers about more than just golf.

“[The golfers] had to respect the game of golf, respect themselves, respect their opponents, and respect the college name. We instilled that in them all around the game of golf, they have such a golf etiquette. No matter how you performed, how you looked, how you dressed, how you did on the golf course – what you did on the course was what you did off the course. It came from what you did in the classroom; you did all around the college. I took on the idea of what golf is all about. It’s a gentleman’s game. I tried to teach that to all my golfers. We developed a reputation over the years, being down to earth and friendly,” says Duggan.

“A lot of us grew up playing golf, so we know the basic rules,” says Brent Clements, who just completed his second season in the program. “But Mike expected us to thank everyone who ran each tournament, which to some people might be obvious, but to others it’s not.”

“A lot of us grew up playing golf, so we know the basic rules,” says Brent Clements, who just completed his second season in the program. “But Mike expected us to thank everyone who ran each tournament, which to some people might be obvious, but to others it’s not.”

Duggan was a proprietor of the gentlemanly side of the gentleman’s game, and Martin is taking that and adding in a little bit of self-confidence. Martin says the one line he hopes to beat into the brains of his students is to: “Do what you do, because that’s why you’re good at what you do. That’s why you’re good at golf.”

Though Martin doesn’t talk about being a professional without being prompted (fitting for a man Shaw described, in one word without hesitation, as modest), he knows it can help him get through to the players.

“I think that’s what is unique about me. I’m not necessarily a golf coach, knowing the swing inside and out, but I have the experience a lot of people haven’t had. I found even helping amateurs – things like strategy, preparing for a round – they tend to play better just making those little changes as opposed to changing their entire swing,” Martin says.

During his time at Durham Martin may have had one of the best swings on the team, and some of the best scores on the course alongside a couple national championships, but his legacy will stand as the humble man that Shaw stands alongside.  Duggan praises him as the only man he could have seen succeeding him.

“Ty wasn’t out for the individual accolades OCAA athletics are team sports, even though golf may be an individual sport. And it was all about team for Tyler. It was all about succeeding as a group,” says Duggan.

“He’s probably going to go into our Hall Of Fame one day. He’ll be humbled by that.”

Advertisements

No Comments

Be the first to start the conversation!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s