Photo by Bill Roseberry
Jim Rohan, 76, poses in front of the practice greens at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Godfrey. Rohan has been tutoring and mentoring golfers for 56 years. He currently teaches out of Rolling Hills and Spencer T. Olin Golf Course in Alton.
When it comes to teaching the game of golf, nothing is more important to Jim Rohan.
Rohan, 76, came to Alton in 1965 after being born and raised in St. Louis. Since that time, he has taught legions of players the game he loves.
He loves teaching it so much he doesn’t even play it anymore.
“I feel like I have a lot more to give by teaching and helping others,” Rohan said. “It’s a way for me to give back what golf has given to me. I feel blessed I even know the sport. Golf is a very high-character game and the people involved in golf are very honest, very courteous and a lot of that drew me to the sport.
“I began teaching in 1958, so it’s been a long time. I strive on success and I’ve been pretty successful.”
He’s been a staple in the area golfing community, working as the golf pro at Lockhaven Country Club from 1965-76 and owning and operating Glen Haven Golf Range on Humbert Road in Godfrey from ‘76-06, where he continued giving lessons.
In 2006 he began teaching at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Godfrey and in 2012 he added Spencer T. Olin Golf Course in Alton as another spot to tutor wannabe golfers. He still teaches at both courses.
Marquette Catholic boys’ golf coach Pat Moore has a long relationship with Rohan. He trusts Rohan to work with his talented Explorers and it’s one of the reasons the team, filled with all underclassmen, was 13-0 in dual meets entering Tuesday of this week.
“I met (Rohan) through my dad when I was a little kid,” Moore said. “I used to go see him at (Glen Haven Golf Range) on Humbert Road and he’s just all about helping people out as much as possible. I went to him before high school and during high school because if you just needed a little tweak with your swing he was the guy to go to.”
The high school golf season is a busy time for Rohan. Not only does he mentor the Marquette boys, he helps players from the Civic Memorial boys’ and girls’ teams, the Alton girls, the Roxana girls and some Southwestern players, to name a few.
“Right now we’re in the latter part of the high school golf season, so I’ve been extremely busy,” Rohan said. “I have young men and women I assist from seven or eight high schools, so the demand has been great for the last two months. I have about 25 lessons in a week, sometimes a little more or a little less.”
Moore has the utmost respect and trust in Rohan and has faith in him to assist his boys because Rohan did wonders tweaking his game during his prep days.
“He’s the most patient person I’ve ever met,” Moore said. “The way he works with the guys on my varsity team; five of the six guys have been going to him for at least four plus years. The way he talks to the kids and puts a picture in their head to get better with their swing — from better control, better ball striking, anything along those lines — he’s able to do that. He just knows how to say that to somebody.”
Golf is as much mental, if not more, than it is physical. It’s that aspect that Rohan focuses on and he thinks his ability to read people helps with that tremendously.
“I don’t teach conventionally. I don’t teach people to use their equipment,” Rohan said. “I teach them to take advantage of the freedom and use of their body. Each person has a different personality and your personality is going to enter into your golf game.
“By the time I’ve seen five swings I pretty much know where people are at and I’ve designed a program for them to get them to where they need to be in the shortest amount of time. My strong point is the ability to read the individual.”
And it helps him build relationships, which he loves. With the assistance of Bob Von Hatten and Jim Barton back in his Lockhaven days, Rohan created a youth program that would filter 100 kids through a year. He is still friends with many of those students today. He’s coached novice players from as young as four to as old as 86.
As he watches Marquette’s success on the links, it’s gratifying to him. It’s peace of mind that he helped put the players on the right path. It’s what drives him as a person.
“I have such a desire to do this and as long as the demand is there I’m going to stay with it,” Rohan said. “I figure I’ll retire about 80 and at that time I think I’ll go back to playing golf. Right now I’ve got something that’s more important in my life than my playing.”
Follow #ADVsports on Twitter