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‘They’re not gonna fire me’

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For the primary time in his decades-long profession on the helm of the Clemson males’s golf crew, Larry Penley feels no stress this week on the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship. And why ought to he?

In January, Penley introduced he can be retiring on the finish of the season after a 38-year profession teaching his alma mater, one which’s seen him set the all-time faculty wins report at 83.

“Win, lose or draw they’re not gonna fire me,” stated Penley with amusing on Thursday after a observe spherical at Grayhawk Golf Club. “I’m just excited about watching some good golf and watching us compete one more time.”

But that another time virtually didn’t occur.

Entering the Kingston Springs Regional because the No. 1 seed, the Tigers needed to claw their method to the NCAA Championship, capturing 1 below within the closing spherical to complete T-4 with NC State at 3 below, two pictures away from the minimize line.

“It was a lot of relief,” Penley stated of the regional. “We did such a good job at the ACC Championship and we did such a good job all spring. I hate to say we were overconfident. We were probably a little ill-prepared and a little overconfident. And we didn’t wake up until it was almost too late.”

The crew joked with him, saying “we had it all the way,” however Penley wasn’t as satisfied.

“I never felt like that. I didn’t feel very prepared. A lot of that was my fault,” he continued. “I think we felt like we could go there and show up and make it. Teams are too good. The golf course was too good. And it beat us, you know, but hey, we’re here. Wipe the slate clean and let’s see what we can do.”

Noting how the crew put themselves in “a horrible situation,” Penley praised his guys for battling as an alternative of hanging their heads.

“I was really proud of that fight and their grit.”

For these unfamiliar with Penley’s profession at Clemson, you could possibly name him the Godfather of Tigers golf.

The Collegiate Golf Hall of Famer led Clemson to a nationwide championship in 2003, in addition to 25 top-20 seasons. On high of his 83 wins, the Tigers completed in second place 86 instances below Penley’s watch.

The 62-year-old Dallas, North Carolina, native is one among simply two coaches in any sport in convention historical past to win ACC Coach of the Year in 5 completely different many years (an honor he’s earned 9 instances). Over the years, Penley’s program has produced 62 All-American alternatives.

“I really had a 35-year plan, but then I bring in Colby Patton, who was the son of one of my former players, Turk Pettit and Kyle Cottam. And I knew immediately that those three guys were going to be very special,” stated Penley. “They have meant a whole lot to our golf program. They’ve all made All-American. They’ve all been great champions. I thought it might be kind of cool to go out with those three. Now Colby and Kyle are going to come back, so I’m gonna go out with Turk and William Nottingham.”

The COVID-19 pandemic additionally pushed Penley within the path of retirement.

“We couldn’t do anything. Couldn’t go on the road. Couldn’t recruit. Then the ACC stops us in the fall, so we couldn’t even compete in the fall,” defined Penley. “I’ve got currently four grandchildren under the age of six living close to Clemson and another one coming in September, and four of them are boys so I’ve got things to do. And I realized, you know, there’s, there’s more to this life, you’re still young enough to do a lot with them. And that really helped me make my mind up.”

But don’t get it twisted, Penley isn’t giving up golf chilly turkey.

“(Now assistant coach and future head coach Jordan Byrd) doesn’t have a volunteer coach. I’ll need to let him set his feet, and then I’m going to enjoy going to practice,” stated Penley, noting how he nonetheless feels an obligation to the crew. “I still love the practice. I like being on the range with the guys. I like watching them get better. I like watching them experiment and practice and try new things and see what works and what doesn’t work. And we’ve got a really good practice facility. And I like spending time down there. So I’m looking forward to doing some of that.”

Outside of nonetheless spending time with the crew, Penley is most trying ahead to spending time along with his grandkids and household. Don’t neglect about these younger grandkids. Someone has to crew them to play golf.

“Might as well be me,” he stated with a smile.

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