The First Word: “A Game of Technology: A Profile of Coach Lee Richter”

NathanGarnerThe second entry into this year’s batch of exemplary first-year writing is Nathan Garner’s “A Game of Technology: A Profile of Coach Lee Richter.” It was nominated by Dr. Justin Thurman.

About this piece, Dr. Thurman writes:

Nathan’s profile of LaGrange College’s golf coach manages to do two things quite well. First off, it captures Coach Richter’s commitment to his players and details how he came to be a coach at LaGrange College. Secondly, it explores the far-reaching uses and abuses of social media and information technology. The piece is ultimately successful, however, because Nathan worked through multiple drafts and incorporated valuable feedback from his workshop peer group.

A Game of Technology: A Profile of Coach Lee Richter

by Nathan Garner

The LaGrange Panthers golf team had strung together two good rounds through the first thirty-six holes of a tournament and were in contention to win with only eighteen holes left to play. The teams number one player had strung together a pretty good start to the final round as Coach Lee Richter was watching on. Although he was still excited his number one guy was playing well, Coach Richter was anxious to know how the rest of his team was doing. Coach Richter kept updating his Golf Stat app, an online application used to track live scoring for college golf tournaments, to see how the rest of his team was playing.

Coach Richter was trying his best to make it around to all of his players but there was just no way of doing so in a timely fashion. As the tournament came down to the final stretch, Coach Richter’s heart rate increased and he became increasingly nervous. He wanted to see how his team stood relative to the field at the top of the leaderboard so he used Golf Stat once again. Thanks to the live scoring in his hand, Richter was able to tell his number one player still left on the course what he needed from him.

“We are two shots behind Huntingdon so I need you to get a little more aggressive and make a couple birdies coming in here,” he recalled. Knowing what he needed to do, the last Panther left on the course finished strong with three straight birdies and won the title for the team.

Lee Richter grew up in LaGrange, Georgia and played golf as a young child. He later went on to become an All-American at Troy University and won two National Championships while playing there. As Richter grew older, he was led to give back to the town where he grew up by coaching the golf team at LaGrange College. Richter quickly learned the ins and outs of coaching including the difficult process of recruiting.

Most all college golf coaches, or any college coach for that matter, can remember the days before the internet allowed recruiting profiles to be available at a coach’s fingertips. Junior Golf Scoreboard initially started as a site to allow junior golfers to keep up with their world ranking and their progress in junior competition, but it blossomed into a site where coaches flock to see the profiles of junior players all over the world.

The process of recruiting the very best players for his program proved to be challenging, Richter recalls. “You had to call all of the high schools around you to find out if they had any players that were worth anything. You then had to find out from their teachers about their grades and talk to the golf coach to find out about their golf games.” Richter recalls just how strenuous of a process it was to recruit players and still manage team practices every day. A whole other level of stress was added when having to manage the team in competition, especially if the team was playing well enough to be contending for a title. Although Richter was not too old, the stress and the strenuous efforts of the job was taking a toll on his health. Richter recalls the constant thought that ran through his head: “There has to be a better way.”

Although Junior Golf Scoreboard, or JGS for short, isn’t as extensive as some recruiting profile sites, a coach can access scoring average, strength of tournaments, and wins or top 5s. Richter points out, “Junior Golf Scoreboard is particularly useful in my case because I can just search for players who live in a general area of one or two states over who actually might have a realistic chance of coming to LaGrange”.

Information technology has impacted the job of Coach Lee Richter more than most people could realize or imagine. Per Richter, “Information technology allows me a more efficient process for recruiting players and web tools even exist for me to be able to keep up with all players of my team at once while at a tournament.”

Recent additions to the world of information technology such as Golf Stat and Junior Golf Scoreboard have both made the coaching job of Richter exponentially easier. Through the services of Junior Golf Scoreboard and Golf Stat, Richter’s job has become exponentially easier and more efficient now that he has the ability to look at player profile for recruiting without actually even contacting the player, check his players scores all at the same time during a tournament, and even check the scores of other teams relative to his on the leaderboard.

“It is a common agreement among all college golf coaches that JGS and Golf Stat has made the whole coaching process much easier,” Richter states.

While Golf Stat and Junior Golf Scoreboard have made Richter’s job far easier, he admits that the high efficiency of these tools sometimes allows him to get in over his head a bit. “I often find myself recruiting dozens of kids at one time when I only have room for two or three of them. This frenzy is just made so easy by the high efficiency and productivity of these tools that I use.”

Lee Richter often remembers back in the past before his job was made easier by online applications such as Junior Golf Scoreboard and Golf Stat. He remembers just how strenuous of a process it was to recruit a player. He remembers how stressful a tournament used to be not knowing how any of his guys were playing. All he can do is be thankful for the many recruits Junior Golf Scoreboard has brought him, the many tournaments made less stressful by knowing what is going on, and the titles that his team has earned because of both. Technology has changed the job and the life of Richter in the best way possible.

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