A major champion as a college golf assistant coach? That’s what Shaun Micheel is doing at Butler

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Colby Huffman was looking for someone who could benefit his golf team in multiple ways.

Before the start of the 2022-23 college season, Huffman, the head men’s coach at Butler, was in need of an assistant. He wanted someone who could help not only with swings and mental approaches, but also playing experience at different levels. He wanted someone who could take his team to another level.

Enter Shaun Micheel. Yes, the major champion who won his only PGA Tour title at the 2003 PGA Championship at Oak Hill.

“I had reached out to some of my coaching buddies and asked for their opinions on some people,” Huffman said. “I eventually called Shaun out of the blue. He was interested to get into coaching.”

Micheel’s playing career isn’t over — he still practices plenty in between attending his daughter’s high school soccer games or visiting his older kids in college at Ole Miss — but he has started looking at what could be next. Huffman’s call, and the friendship the two had built before then, opened a door for Micheel to get into coaching and give it a shot. Now, the Butler men’s golf team has a PGA champion on its side, a major asset that Huffman hoped pay dividends well into the spring season.

PGA Championship

PGA Championship

A plaque in the rough on the 18th hole commemorates the 7-iron shot that Shaun Micheel struck from 174 yards during the 2003 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. (Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

“I’ve given a lot of speeches at clinics where I have offered my advice, and I never really got to see where that advice went,” Micheel said. “When you play in a pro-am and help that person out, you may never see that person again to see whether they got any better or see whether what you told them was a load of garbage.”

Micheel, 53, will now get to see that advice play out over the course of the season.

Huffman said he and Micheel met nearly a decade ago and have stayed in touch since. That’s why it was easy for Micheel to say yes to being an assistant, even though he still lives in Tennessee.

He won’t be at every practice, and he hasn’t been at every tournament for Butler’s fall season. He made his debut in October at the Xavier Invitational in Ohio. Although Micheel may not be as hands-on as Huffman, his impact can’t be understated.

There have been multiple phone calls and messages with players on the team. Everything from ideas on swing thoughts to mental approach, it’s fair to say Butler’s student-athletes are using Micheel and his expertise as an advantage.

And they should. Having a major champion as a college coach is basically unheard of.

“It has been a long time since I’ve been at a golf tournament as a non-participant,” Micheel said. “I didn’t really know what to expect.”

Forget first-tee jitters as a competitor. Micheel admitted he had those as an assistant.

Much as a golfer figures out how a golf course is playing during the round, Micheel was getting a feel of how to be an assistant during his first tournament.

He had to weigh whether to step in and say something to one of the players and how much he should say when they called him over. He tried to sit back and take in as much information as possible while stepping forward and trying to put players in a good position to succeed when they needed help.

“I didn’t want to put myself in a situation that were where a player wanted to hit a certain shot, and I talked him out of it,” Micheel said. “I think that goes back in the professional level with a player-caddie relationship. It’s difficult.”

Micheel said he told Huffman it’s hard to figure out when to speak up. As an assistant, Micheel is reading his players instead of greens. It’s part of the challenge he embraces with this new role, though his playing career isn’t close to over.

He wants to become exempt on the PGA Tour Champions, and Micheel has final-stage qualifying in Scottsdale next month to try and attain that. Even while chasing Champions status, he plans to get up to Butler’s campus in Indianapolis this winter to meet with some of the athletic department staff and more.

That will also give him another opportunity to connect more with the team heading into the spring.

“Pretty much everyone on the team wants to turn pro, so with Shaun being able to talk with them about everything related to that, that experience is invaluable,” Huffman said. “He can give these guys playing wisdom, life advice and so much more.”

Those lessons have been major, and as Micheel continues to work on his game, there’s a good chance he can learn as much from being an assistant coach at Butler as the players can learn from him.

“I don’t have any aspirations to give up playing golf right now to become a college coach (full-time),” Micheel said. “But I mean, as many injuries as I’ve had, maybe that’s an opportunity that might present itself down the road somewhere. You just never know, but for right now, I’m gonna play and get to some of these events when I can. I’m eager to help out these young men.”


Major money: How much Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open, British Open pays to winner (and what about the Players?)

U.S. Open 2021

U.S. Open 2021

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek

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