— College Hall of Fame golf coach Karl Tucker, who built BYU's program
into a national power, died Friday afternoon at his home with his
children and wife, Joann, bedside.
Tucker, 82, had battled complications stemming from congestive
heart failure this past year. Funeral arrangements are pending and will
be announced by the family.
"He is a legend and he left a past and legacy we'll all honor," said
Gary Golightly, a close friend and former executive director of the
Tucker, who once said he was the luckiest man alive, coached BYU's
golf team to an NCAA championship in 1981 and loved to ski, golf and
ride his horses. A dedicated ski instructor, he served two decades as
chairman of the Provo Open and created a charity to benefit the Boys
and Girls Club of Utah County.
Tucker, late USC golf coach Stan Wood, Dave Williams of the
University of Houston and Jess Haddock of Wake Forest are recognized as
the founding fathers of modern collegiate golf, according to USCTrojans.com.
BYU hired Tucker to pilot its golf program in 1961. And from 1966,
when Johnny Miller and Mike Taylor earned All-American honors, until
his retirement in 1993, Tucker's players earned more than 60
From 1969 through 1991, two years before Tucker retired as BYU's
golf coach, his teams won 19 conference championships and had 17 Top 10
finishes in the NCAA Golf Championships.
Golfers who came through his program include a myriad of
All-Americans including Mike Reid, Keith Clearwater, golf designer John
Fought, former Masters champion Mike Weir, Dick Zokol, Keith
Clearwater, Pat McGowan and TV golf analyst Bobby Clampett, who was the
college player of the year in 1980.
"We are all saddened by the news," Fought said. "He was a great
leader and friend to all of us — his former players. He was a lot more
than just a coach. He was an inspiration and the firmest of
foundations. He led with class and guided us through the years.
"His legacy is all the memories we have of the great times we spent
together playing golf, but mostly I will remember and cherish his
advice to a rather immature boy from Portland, Oregon. He gave us all
so much and we will miss him."
"I would just say that coach's legacy was obviously first, his
undying love for Joann," Clearwater said. "But second was a very unique
and unmatched loyalty to his players that spanned some 40 years. Every
coach at BYU tries to emulate his program and relationship with
players. That legacy will never end."
Most of Tucker's former players, including Clampett — who had never
returned to Provo — attended Cougar Day this past fall at Riverside
Country Club in Provo, knowing the event might be the final opportunity
to visit with their former coach.
After an emotional dinner the night before the event, associate BYU
athletic director Brian Santiago said the event was "all-time," seeing
all that golf talent saluting their coach and trading stories.
"The only thing bigger than Karl's smile was his heart," said
Fairways Magazine publisher Randy Dodson. "I learned many things from
him, none of which had to do with golf, although he tried to fix my
swing many times. I have a great admiration for his ability to treat
all people, regardless of their position in life, the same. I will miss