Pioneer Amongst the Pines: Part 2

This is part 2 of an interview with legendary golf instructor and women’s golf pioneer, Ann Loughlin.  Click here to see part 1.

By TODD WOLVERTON

Ann went on to graduate with a master’s in education.

“…my goal was to become an athletic director at a Big Ten University, but that was a dead end as well. That was like, you know…

“These ideas are too early.” You know “We don’t even look at that.” Ann says, referring to her numerous rejections.

After graduation, Ann would go on to work at several community and private colleges teaching while she played amateur golf in the summer on the side. Undeterred, she decided she wanted to do something with golf or tennis, so she sent more letters. Eventually, Ann would hear back from a women’s mini-tour in California that needed a rulesofficial.

“The woman that ran the tour said, “Well, I’m driving through going to my mother’s funeral in Indianapolis. If you can drive down and meet me in St Louis, we’ll have an interview.” So, I was about 5 hours away. I got in to my car and into a pinstriped interviewing suit, grabbed the brief case and got down there and met the person. It was a very casual interview. I’ll never forget it. I think I still have the napkin. She took out this napkin and drew a picture of a van.” Ann says as she writes on an imaginary napkin.

Then she drew a trailer and she said, “This is the trailer that carries all the stuff for the tour. If you sign on, you’ll be driving this around the country.”

This would turn out to be the very inauspicious beginning to what has turned out to be a long, and distinguished career in women’s golf for Ann. She went on to play, coach and be involved in so many ways in professional golf. Most recently, Ann has owned and operated Ann Loughlin Golf, her golf instruction business. When we begin to talk about golf instruction, that’s when Ann beams. She is clearly passionate about golf instruction.

“I really like teaching and having my own business and kind of making things up as I go. I guess it’s just the entrepreneurial spirit kind of thing.”

This past year, Ann took the time to use the notes that she has been keeping on each of her students and compile them into a book called “The Golf Letters: Tee Tales”. It is a humorous look at the complex and intimidating world of golf in 143 profound insights disguised as charming little tales. Case in point. There is one tale called “Facebook” which I found particularly appropriate for thisforum.

“The following is a testament, of sorts, to our modern society. I had a mixture of people from all walks of life taking group golf lessons together. When we began introductions at the start of the class, a woman piped up after hearing another woman introduce herself and said. “Oh, Sally, wow, you’re one of my Facebook friends, but this is the first time I’ve ever met you.” **

Makes you think, doesn’t it?  Buy a copy at annloughlingolf.com. It will get you laughing and thinking.

Q. You had your business down in California. How did you end up in Missoula?

A. I had visited here.  I saw on your site (Make it Missoula) that you have “A River Runs Through It.” I had actually seen that movie and I thought, “Well that looks kinda like a neat little place.” That (movie) was a really great little advertisement for the state.  My mother’s family comes from Miles City…I was tired of California; I had been there 9 years. One day I gave seventeen, half-hour lessons in one day and I still don’t know how I got home that day. I thought “I’m on a little bit of a tread mill here”. I could have stayed there but, you make $10,000 more dollars. It’s just not worth it to knock yourself out. So, I thought, it’s just a little bit better quality of life. So, a friend and I visited Missoula and really liked it. And they didn’t have a teaching pro here. I went to the university and saw that there was the potential there. So, that’s how I ended up here.”

Q. How would you describe your instructional style?

A. I try to just be present. You just don’t know what you are going to get. I ask a lot of questions in a lesson to find out what’s in their mind. You don’t know what’s in a person’s mind until they give it to you and then you analyze that concept and then you can tell them if it holds water or not. A lot of times I just try to clear out the person’s brain more than anything. I’m not a method teacher.

Ann was recently appointed by new PGA President Allen Wronowski to the PGA National Instructional Committee, which will meet in St Louis to discuss the future of golf in America. They will be looking at way to get Americans more involved in golf and especially youth. I look forward to having a follow-up discussion with Ann regarding her experience there and the future of Junior golf in Missoula; a topic near and dear to my heart.

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Todd Wolverton was born in Missoula and is a UM class of ‘88 alum. Todd and has been an avid golfer for over 40 years, but make no mistake, he’s no pro. He’s just a guy on the course yelling “fore”. Todd is the first to tell you he has his good days and his bad – more bad than good – but to him there are no bad days that include golf. Yes, Todd loves to tell stories and right here is where you will hear them–on a weekly basis. You can expect stories about his latest round, stuff he knows or thinks he knows, and interesting anecdotes about the the past and the present in the world of golf as he knows it…….Missoula areagolf!