Potter set to help UM golf reach new heights

Ryan Potter's path to becoming a college golf coach isn't all that surprising. He had quite a role model to follow.

His father, Mic Potter, was women's golf coach at Furman for 23 years and has been head women's coach at Alabama for the past three seasons. During that time, he has established himself as one of the country's top college golf coaches.

Ryan hopes to do the same thing, and Ole Miss is giving him his next opportunity.

"I really wanted to look into the job here after I heard it was open," said Potter, who turns 26 on July 16. "I heard about it from Christian Newton, who was the assistant men's coach at Alabama now the assistant at Georgia Tech. He heard that Jonathan (Dismuke) was leaving here, so I just heard it by word of mouth, really."

Of course, that's the way many opportunities arise, and certainly that was the case for Potter. Dismuke, the assistant coach at Ole Miss the past two seasons, left last month to become the assistant men's golf coach at Texas A&M.

It appears Ryan Potter set out years ago on a life's journey where golf was among the most important aspects. He says that while his environment allowed him to look deeply into the game and also into coaching, he never felt pressured to be involved in golf.

"My parents (Mic and Kim) were really great," he said. "They never forced golf on me. I went out there to play starting at about five years old and really enjoyed it. It was all on me. I didn't have to do it. But after I began to play, my parents said if we were going to travel and pay money to go to tournaments, I'd have to practice and be committed to it. But I always enjoyed it, so that wasn't a problem."

He began competitive golf in the eighth grade and progressed to the level of being able to play collegiate golf. He was a four-year letterwinner at Furman, which is exactly what he wanted to do.

"It was convenient for me," Potter said of playing at the Greenville, S.C., school. "My dad was my swing coach, and I got to see him every day. It was close to home. I really never thought about playing anywhere else."

Rather than take the professional playing route so many do after successful college years, Ryan, whose younger brother Corey is a Furman alum now living in Tuscaloosa, had eyes on another path. The opportunity didn't come along immediately, but it didn't take all that long either.

"After college I realized pretty quickly there are a lot of good players out there and it costs money and you've got to be pretty good. So I didn't try it," he said of pro golf. "I kind of got the (coaching) bug from my dad, too. I can be involved in golf this way and hopefully affecting other people's lives in a positive way."

Right after his Furman career, Potter's family moved to Tuscaloosa after spending almost a quarter century at Furman. Ryan moved as well, and the past three years he has built a solid resume'.

He worked at Ol' Colony Golf Course in Tuscaloosa and was assistant director for First Tee of Tuscaloosa, a youth golf program. He did an internship with the American Junior Golf Association based in Georgia. He was the graduate assistant for athletic compliance at Alabama and followed that up as the volunteer assistant coach for the Alabama men's golf team this past season. The Crimson Tide finished 13th at the NCAA Championships at Purdue this year.

Now Ernest Ross, the head coach at Ole Miss, has given Ryan his next opportunity, which Potter says he is excited to have. He hopes to build on his own strengths and positives to help the Rebel program continue its climb up the NCAA ladder.

"I'm young so I feel I'm enthusiastic about what I do and can relate to the players," said Potter, who got his undergraduate degree in history at Furman and a Masters degree in sport management at Alabama. "This is my first job so I'm very excited to get out on the road and recruit. I've always been a hard worker, and I finish everything that I do. Golf's been my life, and I feel like I've already jumped right in here. I want this program to be great, and I'll do whatever it takes, within the rules of course, because I hate losing. Those are some strengths that drive me."

"I'm very excited to have Ryan join our program," said Ross, who has led the Rebels to the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons. "He will be a great asset to Ole Miss golf. He has extensive teaching knowledge and experience in some of the top programs in America. I know our players will respond well to him."

Potter said he is excited about the future of Ole Miss men's golf.

"Coach Ross and I share the same goals for this program. Our philosophies are very similar," Potter said. "We know there is something really good going on here. They've been improving every year, and Jonathan (Dismuke) has been a big part of it. I have some big shoes to fill. I really think we can be a national championship contender here. We can be great here. I wouldn't have taken the job if I didn't think so."

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