Last night, the Illinois PGA announced that our Director of Golf and head men's golf coach Pat Goss has been named the organization's Teacher of the Year for 2012. This is a prestigious and well-deserved honor for a man who previously was named one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers in America in 2007.
While this award was decided well ahead of the start of the 2012-13 Northwestern men's and women's golf seasons (and the Ryder Cup held locally at Medinah last week), all three of those events provided clear-cut evidence of Goss' teaching prowess.
After barely a month of competition this year, NU golfers have combined for two individual wins and two more runner-up finishes. NU's men's squad has one team victory and another runner-up performance while the women took third behind two top-10 teams at their own Windy City Memorial Classic this week.
Most impressively, Northwestern's women currently are ranked No. 12 in the nation while the men are at No. 13 in the most recent Golfstat.com ratings -- a mathematical formula used to determine who qualifies for the NCAA Championships field. A fantastic start to the year for Goss and head women's coach Emily Fletcher, to be sure.
Goss' also shares his immense teaching talents with the community, volunteering his time in each of the last two years to teach lessons benefiting the First Tee of Greater Chicago. Those who seek to get better at the game would be wise to participate in those lessons; Goss has had incredible success in improving the games of his college charges to professional caliber. This year along former Wildcats have won on the PGA, European, Asian and Web.com Tours, while other recent Wildcats have competed in Canadian Tour and Japan Tour events.
Goss is best known internationally, though, for his continued connection with one specific Wildcat pro: former World No. 1 and Ryder Cup hero Luke Donald, who was a four-time All-American here at Northwestern before graduating in 2001. With the 2012 installment of the United States vs. Europe team match play extravaganza being held at nearby Medinah Country Club, Goss was able to spend mornings with Luke during practice rounds at Medinah No. 3 before heading to Northwestern's team practice ahead of the Olympia Fields CC/Fighting Illini Invitational that began on Ryder Cup Sunday.
Though Luke uncharacteristically lost his first two matches in the tournament Friday (he entered 2012 with the best Ryder Cup career winning percentage in European Team history at 8-2-1), he battled back to capture his Saturday four-ball match before topping Bubba Watson in singles Sunday as the lead European in a comeback effort dubbed the "Miracle at Medinah." Throughout the event, American fans followed and rooted for Luke while wearing Northwestern apparel, showing support for the adopted local boy playing for a rival continent. Luke, with Goss trailing him the entire time in the practice rounds, took time out Thursday to don a purple Northwestern hat while heading to No. 13 tee.
Below are some great images taken by Mike Anzaldi during the practice rounds at Medinah that led up to an incredibly exciting comeback for Luke and his teammates and an excruciating Sunday for the American side.