North Texas Daily

Assistant golf coach turns hobby into career

Assistant golf coach turns hobby into career

Assistant golf coach turns hobby into career
April 16
00:05 2015

Alex Lessard / Staff Writer

After pursuing what he called a normal working career managing drywall and interiors for a major construction business, assistant men and women’s golf coach Barry Niemann decided to turn a hobby into a career.

Soon after moving to Washington with his wife and kids in 1996, Niemann used knowledge from golf club repair classes he took in Austin to become an assistant golf professional with the PGA. From there, Niemann started a repair shop from his house and began working with local golf clubs, unsuspectingly launching an enjoyable and profitable side business for himself and his family.

“It’s kind of fun to work with your hands and fix someone’s clubs, and repair them to better-than-new specifications,” Niemann said. “I can custom-build a set of clubs that are finely-tuned to the individual better than you can buy off the rack.”

North Texas Mean Green 2014/2015 Women's Golf

Barry Niemann – Photo courtesy of meangreensports.com 

Niemann’s coaching career began at Washington State University in 1996 where he spent 12 years as an assistant coach. Since then, he has followed his wife, Yolanda Flores Niemann, and her career as a college professor to three other universities. Barry is currently in his third season with North Texas, where his wife is now the senior vice provost.

Niemann’s skills range from re-gripping to replacing broken or damaged shafts and heads. Through various measurements and observing each individual‘s swings and technique, Niemann helps players choose which grips will work best for their style of play.

Head women’s golf coach Jeff Mitchell spent his first three seasons at North Texas without an assistant coach. With the help of Niemann, club repair is no longer something he has to worry about.

“One of the most important parts of the game itself is club fitting, having clubs that work correctly for you,” Mitchell said. “If you need something done with clubs, Barry’s the guy.”

Professional or casual, each golfer has specific preferences when it comes to clubs. Whether it’s the club length, the head size or the grip firmness, playing with the wrong set of clubs can have a big affect on someone’s game.

“I compare it to buying a pair of shoes. You want the shoes to fit you,” Niemann said. “You don’t want to try to fit into the shoes, which is what you’re buying when you buy some golf club off the rack from Dick’s Sporting Goods or somewhere.”

While some golfers still struggle to find the perfect match, Niemann said retailers have begun to do more individual fitting tests before selling a set of clubs.

“You wouldn’t think of a grip on a club as being a really big thing, but it is,” Mitchell said. “It’s the only connection you have to the club itself, so it’s got to feel right in your hands.”

As a coach, Niemann contributes in areas usually reserved for the head coach, including scheduling practices, making travel arrangements and even recruiting and researching prospective players. Although Niemann can’t attend every single practice and tournament, Mitchell considers him a second head coach.

During his time as head coach at Texas Tech, Mitchell helped teach and shape two young assistant coaches into future head coaches. At North Texas, Mitchell said he doesn’t have to worry about training Niemann as much.

“When I talk about something that I see going on, we already both know what that means, how to handle it, whether we need to make a big deal out of it or not,” Mitchell said. “His age and his experience is a real positive in this situation.”

Women’s golf sophomore Eji Kwon said Mitchell and Niemann’ vast experience taught her things she was oblivious to before her college career.

“It especially helps keep the mind simple and clear throughout the tournament,” Kwon said. “[Niemann is] really straightforward with whatever decision we try to come up with for each shot.”

Niemann’s skills will come in handy as the women and men’s teams will compete at the Conference USA Championships over the next two weeks. Due to his increased involvement with North Texas, Niemann has put his career as an assistant golf professional on the back burner – for now.

Niemann plans on continuing his home repair shop, working with local golf courses and selling club sets during his time at North Texas.

“We probably are eventually looking on getting up there in years and looking at retirement within the next seven, eight, 10 years,” Niemann said. “I’d love to be here until then.”

Niemann will coach in the C-USA women’s championship tournament from April 20 to 22 in Fort Myers, Florida, as well as the men’s tournament from April  26 to 29 in Texarkana, Texas.

Featured Illustration by Jake Bowerman – Senior Staff Illustrator

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