I was scrolling through social media a few days ago, and I came across a video honoring the man who was my first golf coach nearly forty years ago.
His name is Herb Wimberly, and I owe much of my success in golf to him.
As an eight-year-old, I was initially introduced to the game of golf by my dad. He was a professor at New Mexico State University, and would play as often as possible at the university golf course.
I tagged along with him, and I quickly became hooked on the game. Fortunately for me, my visits to the golf course led to my introduction to the golf course head professional, and NMSU men’s golf coach, Herb Wimberly.
My recollection of Herb is that of a giant man with a gentle demeanor, and calming voice.
Though he was extremely busy with his dual responsibilities between running a golf course and coaching a college golf team, he always seemed to find time to spend with me.
Whether it was giving me my first lessons on the practice tee, or just sitting down with me to have a soda, he quickly became my greatest mentor in the game.
Herb always ran a summer junior golf camp. I was a regular attendee for my first couple of summers in golf.
As I was signing up for my third summer of camp, Herb pulled me aside and asked if I’d help him coach the camp.
I was ten years old.
What a thrill. Looking back, I doubt if I was qualified to be taking on such responsibility, but the confidence that my mentor showed in me made a lasting impression throughout my years of junior golf.
I had the great fortune of learning the game around Herb’s college players.
Much like him, these players always treated me with great class and respect, even though I was just a punky little kid.
As I entered my senior year of high school, Herb encouraged me to explore my options for playing college golf, but to also know that I’d always have a spot on his team if that’s what I desired.
Ultimately, I chose to play for the University of New Mexico, but I always felt like I was still one of his guys.
Herb went on to coach the men’s team at New Mexico State for 31 years.
During that span, his teams won seven conference championships. A few of his former players include PGA Tour winners Tom Byrum, Bart Bryant and 2002 PGA Champion Rich Beem.
Herb Wimberly has been awarded more accolades than I can possibly recall.
I feel honored to call him my first golf coach and mentor.