Dan Gibson is a nationally renowned club-fitter who retired from Callaway Golf three years ago.
But he didn’t stay retired long.
Within weeks, he was coaxed into a job The Legends of Indiana Golf Club in Franklin, where he manages the par-3 course and still builds golf clubs.
Recently, he added another vocation when he was hired as the boys varsity golf coach at Whiteland Community High School.
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Although he has never coached high school sports and certainly doesn’t need the work, Gibson accepted the position for a simple reason: the Warriors need his help.
“I kept looking at their record, and they hadn’t won. They were 1-18 last year,” said Gibson, a 1971 Whiteland graduate. “They were last in the county, last in the sectional, last in the conference.
“That’s not the kind of legacy I’d like my high school to have.”
If Gibson has his way, the Warriors are about to begin a new legacy.
A long-time club-fitter and instructor, Gibson spent two decades traveling the country on the Callaway Golf Tour Fit Van. He built clubs for luminaries ranging from corporate CEOs to NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB players.
But he also worked extensively with PGA Tour pros, including many of the game’s biggest names: Fred Couples, Jim Furyk, Chip Beck, Annika Sorenstam and Ben Crenshaw, to name a few.
Gibson’s plan is to impart his knowledge on — and instill confidence in — a young Whiteland team that has a host of freshmen and few returning letterwinners.
He doesn’t promise instant wins but does expect quick results.
“It’s a really young team, so probably at the beginning of the season we’re going to take some lumps,” Gibson said. “But hopefully by mid-season to late-season, we’ll start to show some promise. I don’t think we’re going to win the county or the sectional this year, but our goals are to get out of the cellar.
“Next season I think we can be competitive.”
Fortunately for the Warriors, Gibson isn’t conducting the rebuilding project alone. He successfully recruited one of the state’s foremost golf teachers — PGA professional Tony Clecak — as his assistant coach.
Clecak is the director of senior golf instruction at The Legends. A long-time instructor who has worked at country clubs across the country, he has also been a high school coach and will do much of the hands-on teaching at Whiteland.
“Dan and I have worked together fitting people for the last two or three years,” Clecak said. “He said, ‘What I’d like for you to do is work with the kids on their golf swing, and I’ll handle the other stuff.’
“I said, ‘That’s pretty good,’ so that’s what we’re going to do.”
Whiteland athletics director Ken Sears regards having two of the state’s foremost golf experts in charge of program as a bit of a stroke of luck. Especially since both men could easily choose retirement over coaching.
Gibson is 64. Clecak is 84.
“They’ve still go the energy to do it, so they’re excited. I’m excited,” Sears said. “They could improve my golf game a little bit. It’s going to be a wonderful situation for our kids.
“We don’t have a lot of gifted golfers right now, but they’re going to keep it simple for them and get them out there playing and hitting the ball straight. We’re excited about building up our golf program.”
Gibson wants to do more than simply help the Warriors win matches. He wants to build confidence and show players they can go as far as they want in the game, if they’ll put in the work.
Sectional champion, regional champion, state champion, scholarship player, PGA Tour pro, there is no ceiling for anyone.
“I’ve told them they can be out on the PGA Tour if that’s your desire, if you’re willing to work for it,” Gibson said. “There are opportunities for that to happen. They’re going to get the best instruction. We’ve got tools for them to take off with. If they want to do it or not is going to be up to them.
“We can take any player that wants to improve and make him a competitive golfer. It’s going to take work and a little bit of sacrifice on their behalf, but the opportunity will be there if they want to take it.”
Name: Dan Gibson
Occupations: Head boys golf coach at Whiteland Community High School; Dye Course manager and professional club fitter at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin
Former occupation: Retired club-fitter for Callaway Golf Tour Fit Van
High school: Whiteland (1971)
Wife: Beverly Gibson