Commitment name of the game for Stu North

Commitment name of the game for Stu North

By Loren Nelson, Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wisconsin) staff

Taking golf lessons from Stu North is like eating a seven-course meal -- both require a little extra time and a healthy appetite.

Unlike some golf instructors, North isn't interested in giving a 20-minute lesson to someone he'll probably never see again.

"I'm not teaching golf for the money it puts in my pocket," said the 72-year-old North. "I'm teaching golf for fun. And it only becomes fun when you can see the results of it.

"Every once in awhile, you get a pretty good golfer that gets where he or she wants to go and you feel pretty happy about that."

North's best and undoubtedly most famous pupil is his son, Andy. A winner of two U.S. Open titles, Andy North, 45, now works as a golf commentator for ESPN. He is also in the golf course design business.

Meanwhile, Stu, who spends his summers living north of New Auburn at Sand Lake, is still in the teaching business. He gives lessons every Wednesday at Hallie Golf Club during the summer. Every fall North and his wife, Mary, migrate to Gainesville, Fla., where Stu spends the winter teaching golf at the University of Florida.

"Stu is a person who stresses long-term commitment in the game," said Ed Severson, who along with his brother, John, are the head professionals at Hallie. "He loves to teach people who have aspirations to make golf a career. He doesn't want to commit to working with somebody else unless they're going to make a commitment to the game."

Ed and John Severson hadn't reached their teens when they got their first lessons from North. Although both are now accomplished players who give lessons themselves, they still work with North in an attempt to sharpen their games.

"Whenever we get a chance, we're out there with him," John said.

As you would expect, there are no tricks or gimmicks to North's teaching style.

"In a way, it's kind of simplistic," John said. "He pretty much focuses on a full swing and getting all your body parts working together at the same time. He's not the type of guy who has 14 different tips."

A New Auburn native and former high school teacher and coach at Thorp and Tomah, North worked as a professor and administrator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Houston. Some of North's fondest memories are from his days as a basketball coach at Thorp.

"I was a basketball nut," he said. "Of course, I taught or coached them all, but basketball was the fun game because you can steal a basketball game.

"In football, about halfway through the season you know just about what you're going to do. In basketball, about halfway through the season you start dreaming about how to steal two or three (games) to make it to the state tournament."

North, who coached John and Ed's father, Duke, while at Tomah, is working with his third generation of Seversons. Two of his regular students this summer are Ed's children, Holly and D.J.

"I work with people of every age, but it's fun if you get some kids with a little ability," North said.

A regular on the Chippewa Valley Golf Association's senior tournament circuit, North says he also likes working with older players.

"I believe just because you're 60, you don't have to shoot a funny number," he said. "The good thing about golf is you shouldn't deteriorate as rapidly as most people do. In golf, as long as you can walk normally... you can play pretty respectable ball."

Stewart received a master's degree in industrial education, and Mary received a bachelor's degree in home economics education in 1946 from UW-Stout.

Outlook Winter '96