I take pride in my alma mater, Arizona State, but I am disappointed that the university has hired a man to replace Linda Vollstedt as women's golf coach. I don't have anything against men or Mickey Yokoi personally; it's just that I don't understand why a plum job like the Sun Devils' would go to a man with no head-coaching experience when so many better-qualified women were available.
I played at Arizona State for three years, from 1984 through '86, and, after graduating, was Linda's assistant for three seasons. During her 21 years in Tempe, Linda, a five-time national coach of the year who retired in June, turned the Sun Devils into a powerhouse, winning six NCAA titles. Arizona State should have had its pick of coaches but settled for an assistant on its men's team. That's like hiring a high school coach to run the Notre Dame football program, and we all know what happened there.
All my friends in the women's golf community—tour players, teaching pros and industry executives—were shocked when they heard the news. Unfortunately, hiring a man to replace a woman has become a trend in collegiate golf. In the last few years respected programs like those at Arizona and Southern Methodist University have bypassed qualified women to bring in a less-qualified man.
What made Linda such a great coach was that she could communicate with her players. She told us that to be successful in golf, we needed to work hard in school and keep our personal lives on an even keel. She encouraged us to come to her with our smallest problems. When I was 19, I don't think I would have gone to a man for advice after breaking up with a boyfriend, but I felt perfectly comfortable confiding in Linda. I dearly want to see more top coaching jobs go to women, but in the meantime, I hope I'm wrong about Mickey. I hope that he'll defy the odds and maintain the exceptionally high standards set by Linda.