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Richard Sykes, legendary N.C. State coach and funnyman, dies at 78

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Richard Sykes, who served nearly half a century as head men’s golf coach at North Carolina State University, has died, the university said Sunday afternoon.

Sykes, 78, was Wolfpack head coach for 46 years from 1972 until his retirement in 2017. During his time in Raleigh, North Carolina, Sykes led his teams to 53 team wins, 12 NCAA championship appearances, and 24 NCAA regional championships. bunk while coaching 34 All-Americans, including future PGA Tour players Tim Clark and Karl Pettersson. He has also coached an NCAA Individual Champion and National Player of the Year (Matt Hill, 2009), six individual ACC medalists, and an ACC Tag Team Champion (1990).

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Inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame in 2001, Sykes was a five-time ACC Coach of the Year at his alma mater, where he first ran on the track and then played golf due to a knee injury before graduating at 1968. degree in recreation and park management. He put the degree to good use after being hired as North Carolina State Head Coach four years later, part-time after the departure of football coach Al Michaels, who also coached the golf team; Sykes built a golf course on campus. Lonnie Poole Golf Course has been the Wolfpack’s home club since 2008.

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“I’m sorry I got old so fast,” Sykes told Raleigh’s. News and columnist after retiring in 2017. “I read somewhere that “age is invincible”. I gave him a hell of a run for my money.”

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Sykes was known for his humor and glass eye – he lost an eye at the age of 5 while playing with a toy bow and arrow. Often, his self-deprecating wit attracted attention. Sykes joked that he only needed to cover one eye when he was nervous in tournaments, and he once spooked the Georgia team at dinner by tapping a glass eye with a butter knife. He also placed the eye in glasses of water and other places to scare people.

On another occasion, Sykes was racing a player down a hallway at the Carolina Hotel in Pinehurst, North Carolina when he hit a wall so hard that his hand went through it and into an adjacent room occupied by players from the other team.

“Every ride was a comedy,” said former Sykes player and current Virginia head coach Bowen Sargent. golf week in 2017.

Inspired by a tweet by Golfweek writer Lance Ringler, Sykes’ fellow coaches quickly took to Twitter to share their best one-liners about Sykes:

Baylor Coach Mike McGraw: “Some guys will be in the van and some will be waving at the van.”

Mercer coach Jason Payne: “This team is made up of used Volkswagen cars: they’re good in the city, but not worth a damn on the road.”

Former UCLA coach Derek Freeman: “Never look for the prettiest at a dance.”

“He scattered Wolfpack T-shirts in T-shirt boxes in [junior] events so that kids can see the logo,” recalls Oklahoma head coach Ryan Hieble. — Branding in all its glory. Legend!”

Sykes is survived by his wife, Pam; children David, Rick, Paige and Stacey; and grandchildren Alison, Cody, Samantha, Jack and Eddie.

“Coach Sykes is and will remain synonymous with North Carolina State Golf,” said Sykes’ successor, current Wolf Pack head coach Press McFaul, who played for Sykes before his 12-year stint as an assistant coach in the Hall of Fame. “To the 46-year-old Wolfpack College golfers, he was our coach, inspiration and friend. He had a special ability to make you smile. When he was inducted into the Golf Coaches Hall of Fame, he said that the only thing better than being called “coach” is when Pam calls him “Sugar” and his kids call him “dad.” The coach will be missed by his family, his players and his fellow coaches from coast to coast. We all looked at him to help us smile. Our hearts are heavy today, and we are grateful to him for his friendship.”


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