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PGA pro to guide PSNK golf team

| Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 12:06 a.m.
Penn State New Kensington golf coach and PGA golf professional Tom Crombie (right) offers a swing tip to a customer at the Stoney Creek Driving Range in New Kensington.

Tom Crombie always knew he had a lot to offer a college golf program. He will now get his chance.

Crombie, a PGA professional, will offer his knowledge of the golf swing when he takes over the Penn State New Kensington team this fall.

“I've tried high school positions before, but I've always lost out to teachers on staff,” Crombie said. “This opportunity came up. I threw my name in the hat, and I guess I was the last one standing.”

High school golf programs often choose coaches who are already affiliated with the district, or administrators. College teams aren't always bound by that protocol

Crombie, 55, takes over for Bill Woodard, who also handles the campus' alumni and public relations. Woodard will remain as an assistant.

“(Woodard) said he had a kid here or there who won a conference championship. He explained he could only take the kids so far,” Crombie said. “For them to be really successful, he wanted someone who could help them with their game.”

One tangible asset Crombie brings is a practice facility that is free to all the team members. Crombie is the head teaching professional at Stoney Creek Golf Center in New Kensington.

This is where Crombie hopes to allow his teaching background to come to the forefront.

“The best players in the world take lessons. They constantly mess with their swings,” Crombie said. “If you're interested at playing at the (college) level and you think you can improve, I want to help make these kids better.”

This is Crombie's fifth season at Stoney Creek.

As a coach, Crombie hopes all of the work will pay off with performance on the course. PSNK calls The Links at Spring Church home. It is a course that Crombie likes and sees as one of the best in the area.

“It's a very good golf course. I think it's a bonus for the kids to be able to play there,” Crombie said. “(The Stoney Creek staff and I) actually went out and played yesterday. I'm happy. As a golf pro, I'm glad we're affiliated with it.”

But with all of his knowledge and experience, he will not be able to field a team if he does not have the players to do so. This is a fact that does not escape the new coach.

“I just need to get more kids involved. Then I'm going to put that on me to try to make some inroads with high school (players),” Crombie said.

Many of the top young players in the area wind up at Division I schools. Crombie is looking to land players near or just below that level.

But regardless of who winds up on the team, Crombie only has one goal in mind.

“I don't want these kids to be individuals,” Crombie said. “A lot of them don't know each other. I'm trying to build a team, not a bunch of individuals.”

Dave Yohe is a freelance writer.

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