Gainesville, Fla. – USGA Executive Committee member Steve Smyers was honored along with the rest of the 1973 University of Florida NCAA Championship men’s golf team on Nov. 12 at Gator Golf Day. The squad, which also included Andy Bean, Woody Blackburn, Ben Duncan, Phil Hancock, Gary Koch, Louis Minter and past USGA President Fred Ridley, was also honored during halftime of the Florida-South Carolina football game the next evening.
The team won the second of Florida’s four national championships and claimed the fourth of the school’s 14 Southeastern Conference titles. The Gators also won six other tournaments that season. In addition, Coach Buster Bishop was honored as the SEC Coach of the Year.
Unlike Bean, Blackburn, Duncan, Hancock, and Koch, Smyers never pursued a career in professional golf. He went into the golf course design business and his works include Old Memorial in Tampa and redesigns of Isleworth in the Orlando area and the South Course at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club, which will host the 2011 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship and the 2015 U.S. Amateur Championship. On the Executive Committee, he currently chairs the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship Committee and the International Team Selection Committee, among other duties.
Smyers also remains an elite amateur golfer, having qualified for a number of USGA championships, including last month’s USGA Senior Amateur at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Orlando, where he advanced to the second round of match play. It was his first USGA competition in eight years.
Koch was the 1970 U.S. Junior Amateur champion. He was a three-time All-American at Florida and finished second individually at the 1973 NCAA Championship. He also was the first Florida golfer to earn All-SEC honors four times. He went on to win six PGA Tour events before embarking on a television career as an NBC golf analyst. Koch still plays occasionally on the Champions Tour and is active in golf course design with Robbins/Koch Golf Designs.
Andy Bean is probably the most successful professional from the 1973 Florida title team. He won 11 times on the PGA Tour and posted more than 100 top-10 finishes. Bean still competes on the Champions Tour, where he has three victories and has earned more than $6 million.