PGA Champion Shaun Micheel is enjoying life as an assistant coach at Butler

Colby Huffman was looking for someone who could benefit his golf team in multiple ways.

Before the start of the 2022-23 college season, Huffman, Butler’s men’s head coach, needed an assistant. He wanted someone who could help not only with swings and mental approaches, but also with playing experience at different levels. He wanted someone who could take his team to another level.

Enter Shaun Michael. Yes, the great champion who won his only PGA Tour title at the 2003 PGA Championship at Oak Hill.

“I had reached out to some of my coaching buddies and asked their thoughts on certain people,” Huffman said. “I finally called Shaun out of the blue. He was interested in coaching.

Micheel’s playing career isn’t over — he still practices a lot between watching his daughter’s high school football games or visiting his older kids in college at Ole Miss — but he’s started to look at what could be next. Huffman’s call and the friendship the two had previously built opened the door for Micheel to get into training and try his luck. Now Butler’s men’s golf team has a PGA champion on his side, a major asset that Huffman hoped would pay dividends well into the spring.

A rough plaque on the 18th hole commemorates the 7 iron shot that Shaun Micheel hit 174 yards during the 2003 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. (Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

“I’ve given many speeches at clinics where I’ve offered my advice, and I’ve never really been able to see where that advice went,” Micheel said. “When you’re playing in a pro-am and helping that person, you may never see that person again to see if they’ve improved or to see if what you said to them was a load of garbage. “

Micheel, 53, will now be able to see that advice come to fruition during the season.

Huffman said he and Micheel met nearly a decade ago and have stayed in touch ever since. That’s why it was easy for Micheel to say yes to the assistant position, even though he still lives in Tennessee.

He won’t be at every practice and he hasn’t been at every tournament in Butler’s fall season. He made his debut in October at the Xavier Invitational in Ohio. While Micheel may not be as active as Huffman, his impact cannot be underestimated.

There have been several phone calls and messages with players from the team. From ideas on swing thoughts to mental approach, it’s fair to say that Butler’s student-athletes use Micheel and his expertise as an advantage.

And they should. Having a major champion as a college coach is basically unheard of.

“It has been a long time since I attended a golf tournament as a non-participant,” Micheel said. “I didn’t really know what to expect.”

Forget the nervousness of the first tee as a competitor. Michel admitted that he had them as his assistant.

Much like a golfer discovers what a golf course is like during a round, Micheel was beginning to get a feel for how to be an assistant in his first tournament.

He had to weigh whether he should step in and say something to any of the players and how much he should say when they called him. He tried to sit back and gather as much information as possible while moving forward and trying to put players in a good position to succeed when they needed help.

“I didn’t want to put myself in a situation where a player wanted to hit a certain shot, and I talked him out of it,” Micheel said. “I think it goes back to the professional level with a player-caddie relationship. It’s difficult.”

Micheel said he told Huffman it was hard to know when to speak. As an assistant, Micheel reads his players instead of the greens. It’s part of the challenge he faces with this new role, even though his playing career is not nearly over.

Shaun Michael

Shaun Micheel is an assistant coach for Butler’s men’s golf team. (Photo: Butler Men’s Golf)

He wants to become a PGA Tour Champions bye, and Micheel will advance to the finals in Scottsdale next month in a bid to make that happen. Even while pursuing champion status, he plans to travel to the Butler campus in Indianapolis this winter to meet with some athletic department staff and more.

It will also give him another opportunity to connect more with the team as spring approaches.

“Almost everyone on the team wants to turn pro, so with Shaun being able to talk with them about anything related to that, that experience is invaluable,” Huffman said. “He can give these guys playing wisdom, life advice and so much more.”

Those lessons have been major, and as Micheel continues to work on his game, chances are he can learn as much as an assistant coach at Butler as the players can learn from him.

“I have no aspiration to give up golf right now to be a (full-time) varsity coach,” Micheel said. “But I mean, as many injuries as I’ve had, maybe it’s an opportunity that could come up somewhere down the road. You never know, but right now I’m going to be playing and taking part in some of these events when I can. I look forward to helping these young men.

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