Golf has been an important component of the GPS athletic program since the team’s formation in 1974, the first girls’ golf program in the state of Tennessee. Since 2013, Rob Riddle has been the Director of Golf at GPS, coaching both the Middle School and varsity teams.
During Coach Riddle’s time at GPS, his varsity teams have qualified for the state tournament five of the past seven years, and the program is “trending upward with a nice group of young ladies who are focused, hard-working, and eager to compete,” he says.
Coach Riddle found his way into the GPS golf program when he stepped up to fill in for then-coach Ryan Kirk Kopet ’00, during her maternity leave in 2011. He would become the GPS coach two years later.
While many GPS teams have separate coaches for the Middle School and varsity programs, Coach Riddle likes working with both and sees the importance in developing a strong middle school program to build a successful varsity team.
Coaching golf does present unique challenges. “It’s not the coolest team sport because you don’t share a dugout or bench or get to huddle,” Riddle says. And it’s also not the most affordable athletic endeavor. But local courses, such as Moccasin Bend
, offer student discounts to encourage more kids to learn the game.
Those obstacles aside, Coach Riddle views golf as a great game for girls, a game for life, a game of integrity. “It teaches you to be honest,” he says. “There’s not someone watching your every move, so you decide to do the right thing.” This practice of ethical behavior transfers well for the real world. “In life, God sees everything but your parents and your boss do not.”
The game also requires and teaches composure and allows players of all levels to compete and have fun. “You might not be the greatest athlete in the world, but you can still compete,” Riddle says. “You have to approach the game with strategy.”
As a father of three—two McCallie sons and a GPS alumna—Riddle feels a connection to both campuses and has also served as the Director of Golf for the McCallie program since 2015. He hosts lessons and clinics at the McCallie Golf Center and uses state-of-the-art teaching technology (e.g., Trackman, Simulator, and V1-Pro) to help athletes improve their games.
Coach Riddle has been a member of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America for 25 years and has been teaching and coaching golfers of all ages for even longer. He spent 15 years of his professional career with the top and largest golf management company in the world: Troon Golf (Troon North, Legend Trail, and Black Creek Club). He has worked with several PGA Tour, collegiate scholarship, and ranked junior golfers and even caddied for three-time U.S. Open Champion Hale Irwin.
Coach Riddle’s awards and accolades include being Regional Ping Club Fitter of the Year, PGA Horton Educational Award (multiple years), two-time PGA Merchandiser of the Year, PGA Club Professional Championship (national qualifier), PGA Korn Ferry Tour Participant (Chattanooga Classic), and Three-Time All-Conference Golfer (Shorter University).