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Former golf coach to be newest 'Wearer'

Published May 3, 2004; Category: ATHLETICS

Johnson was the second coach in the golf program's first 80 years

Hall of Fame Coach Bill Johnson, who guided the Dartmouth men's golf team for 34 years until his retirement in 2001, will be honored with induction as a Wearer of the Green on May 14 at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston.

Bill Johnson
Bill Johnson, photographed in 2000, before he retired as Dartmouth's golf coach. (photo by Mark Washburn)

Frequently described as "a gentleman teaching a gentleman's game," Johnson will join 35 former coaches of Dartmouth teams including Tom Keane, his predecessor as coach and professional at Hanover Country Club, as a Wearer of the Green. To be eligible, inductees cannot be currently active coaches at Dartmouth.

Keane was Dartmouth's first golf coach, guiding Green teams from 1922 until his retirement in 1967. Johnson's tenure completed nearly eight decades during which only two men coached the sport, a remarkable achievement in college athletics.

At the time of his retirement, then-Athletic Director Dick Jaeger said, "A college has to consider itself blessed many times over when it can boast of a coach of Bill Johnson's caliber, great skills and far-reaching impact on generations of Dartmouth students and his profession."

The fifth gathering of the Wearers (the event is held every five years) is expected to attract about 700 new and past Wearers as well as other alumni, parents and friends to Boston. The event will honor about 125 new Dartmouth student and alumni inductees and three new honorary inductees at the celebration of achievement in athletics at Dartmouth and beyond.

The honorary inductees are former Director of Athletics Seaver Peters '54, retired Alumni Relations administrator Dave Orr '57, and Carla Manley '40a, a dedicated friend of Dartmouth athletics whose husband, the late John Manley, was honored in 1994.

Johnson, a Class A member of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA), was a innovative coach and teacher who was always on the cutting edge of the game, a role that benefited his players, physical education students and countless members of Hanover Country Club. Over the years, Johnson used graph-check sequence photography, video and computer technology to teach his sport.

Johnson-coached players represented Dartmouth in NCAA competition 17 times on a team or individual basis and four of his student-athletes earned All-America honors: Sandy McWilliams '70, Jerry Daly '76, Joe Henley '79 and Mark Trauner '83.

When he retired, Johnson was dean of Ivy League golf coaches and president of the 48-school New England Intercollegiate Golf Association (NEIGA). From 1978-84 he was a member of the NCAA golf committee and chaired that group from 1981 to 1984.

He was a member of the ECAC golf committee from 1975 to 1985, co-founded the New Hampshire chapter of the New England PGA, and co-founded the New Hampshire Junior Golf Association.

In 1990, Johnson was inducted into the Golf Coaches of America Hall of Fame. He was honored by the NEIGA in 1999 for contributions to the game.

Visit www.dartmouth.org/wearers/ for information about the Wearers of the Green dinner.

By JACK DeGANGE

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Last Updated: 12/17/08