PROVO -- K. Fred Skousen, vice president for advancement at Brigham Young University, announced the retirement of Gary R. Howard as longtime women's head golf coach, effective August 31.
"We recognize Gary for his notable development of women's golf at BYU," said Skousen. "Not only has he been instrumental in the development of classes, he has helped bring the university's program to regional and national recognition. He is a great representative of women's golf in the state of Utah, and we appreciate all he's done."
During his 24 years as head coach of the women's golf team, Howard lead teams to the NCAA nationals twice (1982 and 1985) and two Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women championship (AIAW) tournaments (1979 and 1980). He has coached four conference champions, six conference player of the year winners and seven individual athletes who qualified for the national championships. Additionally, four of his players earned All-America honors and seven were named Academic All-Americans. Numerous others won titles and honors in state and international amateur events.
"I have always tried to emphasize to athletes that there is more than one way to get around a golf course with a good score," said Howard, a member of the National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) Hall of Fame. "Each player succeeds based more upon how quickly they learn to adjust strategy rather than how well someone motivates them. In the final analysis, since it is the player that must make the adjustments, I give all credit to them."
Since conference play began in 1983, Howard's teams have won three league titles (two Western Athletic Conference and one High Country Athletic Conference) and placed second seven times. Howard's teams have also earned spots in the NCAA Western Regional tournament every year from 1993 to 2001 (with the exception of 1999). In 1996 Howard was named WAC coach of the year.
Although he's had his share of success as a coach, Howard finds his real pleasure lies in the friendships and associations with current and former athletes.
"Just the other day I got a call from a former player who was thinking about becoming a coach. She called for my opinion, and we talked for 30 minutes about the subject. The fact that she would call me for career advice was gratifying," said Howard. "That's not a huge thing, but it's a meaningful one."
He also cites his affiliation with university colleagues as one of his favorite aspects of coaching at BYU.
"I've been fortunate to work with a lot of excellent, bright, hard-working people at BYU," said Howard, who was head coach of the extramural ski team for eight years and a volunteer assistant coach for the men's golf team simultaneously in the early 1970s. "I thank them for their time, their advice and their friendship."
Howard was the first male coach to be named to the AIAW National Golf Committee and was instrumental in the formation of the National Golf Coaches Association. In 1982 he was named the AIAW Region VII Division I Coach of the Year. In recognition of his service to women's collegiate golf, he was presented the Gladys Palmer Award by the NGCA in 1988. He takes such accolades in stride, often crediting others for any measure of success he's enjoyed.
"We're grateful for Gary's many contributions to the women's golf program," said Elaine Michaelis, executive director of BYU women's athletics. "Over the years he's helped many athletes develop both their games and their characters. I wish him the best in his future endeavors."
For the present, Howard will draw upon his 32 total years of experience as a head coach to serve as the director of the BYU ski school and will continue working toward instilling character and discipline in those he teaches.
"A lot of successful athletes have come out of BYU, but if you look at sports as the only measure of that success I think you miss the point," said Howard. "Sure, some went on to be successful at sports, but others have gone on to accomplish other important things -- maybe being part of a team played a part of that."