LaRose's leadership has built winning tradition for UA

By Craig Degel

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Judging men's golf coach Rick LaRose's success at Arizona is as easy as looking at his left hand.

On that hand, LaRose sports an NCAA National Championship ring. Not a bad little memento of Arizona's first team championship in 1992.

This is LaRose's 17th season as head of the UA golf team. He took over in 1978, and the program continues to be among the top in the nation.

Since becoming head coach, LaRose's squads have won over 37 tournaments. Arizona has also produced 42 all-conference players, 33 All-Americans, a U.S. amateur champion and a runner-up, four Walker Cup players, two U.S. Publinx champions, five Pacific 10 Conference champions, two national players of the year, three Pac-10 players of the year, and 38 individual tournament champions.

"Coach LaRose is very good at helping players feel comfortable with their game," said assistant coach Tom Brill. "He plays at a very high level and the team respects that."

To his own golf credit, LaRose was the New York Collegiate golf champion in 1967, and qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship as well as the Mid-Amateur Championship. As a coach, he was named NCAA coach of the year in 1992, he has also been named District 8 coach of the year and Pac-10 coach of the year twice.

Surprisingly though, LaRose's history of success at the UA did not begin on the links it started in the pool.

In 1973, LaRose became the head coach of the UA water polo team, back when it was a Division I sport at Arizona, and was an assistant coach on the swim team. While under his guidance, the water polo team was never ranked lower than sixth in the nation, and the team sported six All-Americans and one Olympian.

LaRose was NCAA water polo coach of the year in 1977, and he himself was a three-time All-American.

Nowadays, in addition to coaching, LaRose is on the board of directors for the Arizona Golf Association and the Southwestern Amateur Golf Association.

With his sights set on this season, LaRose is concentrating on establishing his top five players. In tournaments, Arizona fields five golfers, and the four lowest scores are used in the results.

"We're playing well but we're still trying to get a set lineup," LaRose said. "We've played 10 or 11 guys this year. We also have a lot of young guys out there."

The 1994-95 roster includes seven freshman, six sophomores, five juniors and a lone senior, Benjamin Nicolay, a native of France who represented his country at the 1989 European Championships.

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