Michigan Golfer ON-LINE

MSU’s Bobby Williams
by Steve Grinczel

The 16 years Bobby Williams worked as a football assistant may have prepared him to be the new head coach at Michigan State University, but they didn’t do his golf game any favors. I enjoy playing... but it’s probably the worst thing I do, Williams said as he headed into his first season as the Spartan boss.

Members of the college coaching fraternity are known for the long hours they put in during the season, and the premium they place on the time spent away from the team and recruiting. Golf was never a high priority for Williams.

“Let’s put it like this,” he said. “When I had free time, I wasn’t running to the golf course. I tried to spend as much time as I could with my family. Golf is going to take four hours out of a day off, if not more, and I’ve got little kids. I don’t get to see them nearly enough.”

Williams was introduced to golf while attending Purdue University on a football scholarship. He hit the links sporadically during assistant coaching stints at Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Kansas and MSU.

“I’ve been playing golf ever since I started coaching in 83,” Williams said. “But I’ve never mastered the game at all. I don’t claim to be an expert.”

The demands on Williams outside of football increased exponentially on Dec. 5 when he was promoted from running backs coach to head coach, less than a month before the Spartans defeated Florida in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1. First, there were the speaking engagements. And then, even before the weather in Michigan turned nice, there was an MSU alumni outing in Las Vegas. In the following months, it seemed like every alumni association and organization holding a fund-raiser wanted Williams to be one of their featured personalities.

“I play a lot more golf now than I ever did and am invited to a lot more outings,” said Williams, who played in about three a month. “But you know, it would really help if I was any good, because I’m not. A lot of times, I’m out there embarrassing myself.”

You couldn’t prove that by one foursome playing in a scramble event held for sponsors of the Michigan State athletic department last June at the Brookshire Inn & Golf Club in Williamston. The powerfully built Williams, who looks like he could still carry the ball, was the designated driver on the 305-yard No. 1 hole and hit a dead-solid-perfect 275-yard drive for that particular group. Of course, it was William’s first usable shot after spraying numerous attempts into the water and an adjacent fairway.

“The biggest difference is the people I’m playing with now are a lot better than I am,” Williams said of his first summer on the outing circuit as a head coach. “I just try to do the best I can.”

Steve Grinczel covers MSU football for the Booth Newspapers.

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