Sam Puryear wants HBCU golf to be on equal footing. And the Howard University golf coach knows what it will take to get there. After winning a national championship at Stanford, then a Big Ten title with Michigan State, Puryear, with an assist from NBA champion Steph Curry, literally started from scratch at Howard two years ago.
So he sat down with America’s Caddie, Michael Collins, to talk about how opportunity, how he got the Howard job, the goal to compete and win and so much more.
Collins: What’s the most important thing you want people to know about HBCU college golf?
Puryear: I think one of the most important things you can tell people is, No. 1, we’re out here to compete. We’re not out here asking for an advantage. We’re out here asking for equality. We’re out here ready to compete, and we want to compete at the highest level.
I want young people that want to be uber successful. That want to work hard. That want to play the best competition. That want to improve their golf IQ. That want to have that opportunity where, if they do have that golf dream, it can come true. From where I sit today, everything is inside of me. I’m putting it out on the table. I am giving everything to help these young people and their dreams come true.
HBCU golf is, in my estimation, not looking for a handout. We’re looking for an opportunity.
Collins: That’s something you and I talked about before. Not asking for an advantage, but asking for equal footing.
Puryear: If I’m a corporation reading this now, I would say, “OK, what are the things we can provide that would put you on an equal footing?” That’s how I look at it.
Collins: It seems easy, but people assume because you have a college golf program that every kid gets fitted and you have eight Trackman systems. [Puryear laughs.] You laugh, but how do you fix it?
Puryear: My philosophy on that, and I’ve had it since I was a kid, if you’re a coach, you got to have a short memory. All great athletes have short memories. Michael Jordan shoots the ball. He misses 15 times. But guess what? Those last three [that he makes], win the game. He didn’t think about the other ones he missed. Because they’re not important. I heard [Jack] Nicklaus with my own ears say he never missed a short putt.
It’s all of mindset. As a golf coach, in my perspective, I’m coming to this job, this opportunity, with no preconceived notions that life is going to be easy, life is going to be a great, life is going to be fair. Because I still know I have to raise money. I have to call 45 people to get two to consider my salt. I have to send out 100 inquires in order to get 10. I know that means I’m going to have to work harder. I’m going have to work longer. But guess what? I’m the coach. To me, HBCU programs should see what the big schools are doing. They mimic the flavor of the coach. I’ve been coaching a long time. My goal? I’m not coming here with any other expectation other than to build something on solid ground and to win. I know I’m going to have to outwork everybody else. If I think they’re getting up at 8:30 [in the morning] I’ve got to beat them by two hours cause I don’t have the same budget as them. If I think they’re lazy and going to stop at 5 or 6, I’m going to work till 9. Because I have to be willing to bleed, to sacrifice, in order to get better. You just have to do the extra. You have to call that extra guy, you have to email that extra lady, in order to get that Trackman.