Cartersville native wins NAIA coach of the year award
by Jason Greenberg
Jul 05, 2014 | 1586 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sea Island golf instructor and College of Coastal Georgia head coach Mike Cook began his golf career at 5 years old playing at the Cartersville Country Club.

Cook went on to be the state’s high medalist his senior year at Cartersville High and became a third-team all-American in 1982 at the University of Georgia, leading his team to the SEC championship. He then went on to a three-year professional career on the South African Tour.

However, 49 years after taking his first swing in Cartersville, Cook has achieved his greatest success in the sport in 2014 as he was named the Southern States Athletic Conference Coach of the year, won a conference championship, won an NAIA national championship and, last week, received the Dave Williams National Coach of the Year Award for the NAIA.

“It’s a true honor and it’s something I never even really thought about, to be honest with you. When anything like that that comes, it’s just a byproduct of how the team plays,” Cook said of winning the award. “Dave Williams was a legendary golf coach at the University of Houston. He won 16 national championships, had 85 players go on to play the PGA tour, so anytime you can win an award with Dave Willaims’ name on it, it’s a true honor because I knew who he was. I played against his teams at Georgia. He’s a legend, so it’s a true honor.”

Cook has been a golf instructor at Sea Island for 21 years. Four years ago, Coastal Georgia created a golf program, originally competing as a junior college. 2014 was the first year Coastal Georgia was eligible in the NAIA.

Cook led the Mariners to a program-record five wins during the 2013-14 season. The team never finished lower than third in any of the 10 tournaments it played over the fall and spring schedules.

In just four short years, Cook has transformed the Coastal Georgia golf team into a national championship program. Despite all Cook’s previous accomplishments in the game, he said winning the national championship is incomparably his greatest moment.

“There’s no comparison, I’ll take a national championship anyway I can get it. I’ll take it as a parent, I’ll take it as a coach, or as a player. I don’t care,” he said. “It almost felt like, ‘Did this really happen? Was this a dream?’ It happend so fast. That final round we were back six strokes going into the final round and we bypassed two teams. It was fast. It was rapid. I almost could not believe that it happened.”

Cook had a successful career at Cartersville High, but his teams narrowly missed winning the state championship twice, finishing second his freshman year and third his senior year.

“We had a very good high school team,” he said. “My freshman year, we had one of the best teams at the time. I finished second individually as a freshman, but we didn’t win it. We should have won it. I thought we were going to.”

Cook went on to become a first-team all-SEC selction at Georgia and played professionally for three years, but afterward, he thought his competive golf career was over, and with it, a chance to win another ring.

“I wanted to be a player, never really thought about being a coach or instructor. I wanted to play for a living. I played for three years. I did all that and was somewhat successful but not succesful enough,” Cook said. “I had to kind of decide what I wanted to do. I ran into the head golf coach at St. Simons, he offered me a job down here, so I left Cartersville and I’ve been down here ever since.”

Sure enough, the opportunity to get into coaching presented itself four years ago. Still, the notion of winning a national championship seemed like a pipe dream.

“Our main goal was to get to the national championship and do well. I never really imagined standing there with a national trophy in hand,” Cook said. “Our main goal was to win our conference and compete at the highest level and if it happens it happens, and it happend.”