Bro. Sam Puryear
18 Karat Cold - Fall 1990
Sam Puryear was named head coach of the Michigan State men's golf program on August 22, 2007. He became the ninth coach in Michigan State history.
In 2008-09, the Spartans won two tournament and finished in the top-five in nine of the team's 13 events. Junior Jack Newman earned All-Big Ten and All-Midwest Region honors, in addition to becoming the first MSU golfer to appear in the Masters. Newman, along with senior Jordan Ensrud, also were named Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholars, becoming just the sixth Spartans to earn the honor.
In his first season at the helm for the Spartans, Puryear continued the standard of excellence which the Spartan program has been known for. Michigan State won two tournaments, including its second-straight Big Ten Championship, and qualified for the NCAA East Regional. In addition, they placed among the top five in eight of 11 tournaments and finished 11th at the NCAA East Regional, barely missing a berth to the NCAA Championship. They finished the season ranked No. 21 by Golfweek/Sagarin and No. 24 by Golfstat.
The Spartans' success earned Puryear the Big Ten Coach of the Year award, becoming the third MSU coach to take home the honor. Puryear was not the only Spartan to garner postseason accolades, as senior Ryan Brehm became the 13th MSU All-American, and was joined by junior Randy Hutchison and sophomore Jack Newman on the All-Big Ten teams.
"My goal for the Spartan program is to win on the national stage," said Puryear. "We will strive to be the toughest, hardest working, most fit, and best prepared team in the country."
Puryear came to East Lansing after two seasons as an assistant coach at Stanford, where the Cardinal captured the 2007 NCAA Division I National Championship.
"Sam Puryear is a man who has been involved in the game of golf at all levels, from youth academies, to player development, to National Championship college programs, to developing relationships with the top players in the world," said former MSU Athletics Director Ron Mason. "He is a great fit for Michigan State, as he is well suited to keep the Spartans among the elite programs in the Big Ten and competitive on the national golf scene."
Puryear joined the Stanford program in February 2006 as the first-ever full-time assistant dedicated solely to the men's golf team at the school. He took part in a process that saw the Cardinal jump from a No. 42 team ranking all the way to No. 1, according to Golfweek, the Nike Coaches Poll and Golfstat. In 2006, Stanford finished sixth at the Pac-10 Championships and tied for 14th at the NCAA West Regionals. One year later, Puryear helped the Stanford program reach a different level. The Cardinal won a school-record seven tournaments and earned a No. 1 seed in the 2007 West Regional. At the NCAA Championship, Stanford captured the national title with a 12-stroke victory in Williamsburg, Va.
"We are sorry to see Sam leave, but excited for him to get this opportunity," said Stanford head coach Conrad Ray. "It has been great to have him as a part of the Stanford program over the last two seasons. His background is second to none. From all his work with the golf academies to his interaction with some of the world's top players, he has great experience. His biggest asset is his personality. He is competitive and driven to win, which lends itself towards team success.
"Winning a National Championship at Stanford was a total team effort, where everyone made their own unique contribution. What Sam brought was a constant positive attitude and the belief that anything is possible when you put your mind to it."
In just two years at Stanford, Puryear recruited several top-ranked freshman, including Joseph Bramlett (2007 U.S. China Cup Team and 2007 Second-Team All-American) and Steve Ziegler (2007 Junior World Team). He also placed a heavy emphasis on player development as Rob Grube earned second-team All-America honors in 2007, after being an honorable mention selection the prior two seasons. In total, five Stanford student-athletes earned All-America accolades in 2007.
Before joining Stanford, Puryear was executive director of East Lake Junior Golf Academy in Atlanta, where he managed the development of golf instruction and curriculum for an academy, serving more than 1,000 youth. While at the academy, he cultivated relationships with the PGA Tour, LPGA, and The Tour Championship, creating unique one-on-one play for Pro-Am events with academy youth and select Top 30 money winners, including Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, and Phil Mickelson. Puryear created unprecedented opportunities for junior golfers to serve as interns with Turner Sports to work at the 2005 British Open at St. Andrews, Scotland. He also cultivated a relationship with Fortune magazine and created an internship for a female junior golfer. Under his guidance, the academy grew from 150 students in 1998 to 700 in 2005.
"This is a great hire for Michigan State University," said Stephen Hamblin, executive director of the American Junior Golf Association, and a 1979 letterwinner for the MSU golf team. "I've known Sam for 10 years, as we first met when he was at East Lake Junior Golf Academy. When I first met him, I was immediately impressed with his morals and character, and the way in which he was driven to build character in the youths that he worked with. Sam uses the game of golf as a vehicle to produce quality people, not just quality golfers. In that same way, he'll work with the young men at Michigan State to produce solid citizens in addition to top-notch golfers."
While in Atlanta, he served as golf instructor for several youth and community organizations. His work with youth golfers has tangible results, as one former student was selected to play in the 2007 NCAA Division II Regionals. Two former students received full collegiate golf scholarships.
Puryear has a proven track record for fund raising, campaigning, and program support. He recruited Chick-Fil-A as a $250,000 corporate partner for East Lake Golf Club. He raised thousands of dollars annually as district executive for Boy Scouts of America. He developed national relationships, which led to donated equipment, airline tickets, clothing, and supplies.
He has extensive experience in developing boards and working with key leaders in sports, banking and finance, entertainment, the legal sector, the nonprofit arena, and faith-based organizations. These relationships have led to the recruitment of top-level volunteers and industry professionals. He also has worked closely with PGA teaching professionals and executives from the USGA, the PGA of America, the PGA Tour, and The First Tee.
"Sam will be terrific for Michigan State University," said Mike Perpich, one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers at River Pines Golf in Alpharetta, Ga. "He knows how to treat people and he'll be great with alumni and the entire university community. He's a great organizer and a terrific fund raiser. He's very good with young people: in helping them grow as people first and as golfers second. At East Lake Junior Golf Academy, Sam took a group of kids that had nothing and had never even played golf. Out of that first group, four of them received golf scholarships. Any kid that comes to play for Sam will be taken care of for life, and they'll become as good a golfer as they want to be."
Puryear's accolades include being recognized by several media outlets as a prominent spokesperson discussing the future of minorities in golf. He has served on a golf panel on CNN. Puryear's work with student-athletes also has been featured on ESPN, Inside the PGA TOUR, and the Disney Channel. His efforts contributed to a larger community revitalization in metropolitan Atlanta that was prominently featured in Fortune magazine, New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Puryear currently is featured with two former golf students on the Disney Channel in a segment promoting kids following their dreams.
In 2007, the mayor of Winston-Salem, N.C., Puryear's hometown, proclaimed June 11 "Samuel G. Puryear Jr. Day" because of his contribution to the game of golf and the local community.
Puryear received his bachelor's degree in speech and theater from Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tenn., in 1992. A four-year member of the golf team in the Ohio Valley Conference, he served as team captain in 1991.