Golf Q&A: Arnold Palmer Cup coaches David Inglis and John Fields
John Fields is the current head coach of the men's golf program at the University of Texas and will serve as the head coach for Team USA at the 2017 Arnold Palmer Cup at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Fields began his career in college golf as a player for the University of New Mexico before going on to become the head coach for his alma mater.
While leading New Mexico, Fields' teams won three Western Athletic Conference titles and appeared in nine NCAA Championships in a 10-year stretch before he accepted the head coaching position at Texas in 1997. He expanded on his success with the Longhorns guiding them to six top-five finishes at the NCAA Championships including a national championship in 2012. This will be Fields' first time coaching at the Arnold Palmer Cup.
David Inglis is the current head coach for men's golf at Northwestern University and will be the head coach for Team Europe at the 2017 Arnold Palmer Cup. He has had a successful career at Northwestern, leading the Wildcats to the NCAA Regionals each year he has been with the program with a national championship berth in 2011.
A native of Edinburgh, Scotland, Inglis played his collegiate golf at the University of Tulsa where he was a three-time All-American. As a player, he appeared in the Arnold Palmer Cup twice, in 2001 and 2003. He then became the first former Arnold Palmer Cup competitor to be named a coach when he served as assistant coach in 2011 and 2012. He also competed on the European Tour before going to work at Northwestern.
We talked with both of these coaches this week as they prepare for the the upcoming Arnold Palmer Cup, June 9-11.
1. As a past president of the GCAA, you have been involved with the Arnold Palmer Cup in some capacity since 2007. You have played a significant part behind the scenes in the growth and prestige of the event over the years. What will it be like coaching in the matches for the first time?
I am so proud of what the Arnold Palmer Cup has become and where it sits in the growth of collegiate golf. Any event with the Palmer name is special, especially when Arnold Palmer himself felt strongly about collegiate golf and the spirit of this competition.
I am indebted to the GCAA for their leadership and desire to constantly raise the bar in international competition. Following all the great coaches who have had the privilege to coach this team in the past is a dream come true for me.
2. You have had great success in your coaching career first at New Mexico and now at Texas where you won the 2012 national championship. How do you plan on bringing your winning ways to Team USA at the Arnold Palmer Cup?
I am looking forward to the Arnold Palmer Cup. Along with Andrew DiBitetto, we plan to prepare the best we can, creating an atmosphere geared to success.
Top to bottom, we will use our combined 40-plus years of collegiate golf experience to compete at the highest level. Getting to know our team and the course will be our challenge, something we really look forward to.
3. What do you anticipate being your biggest challenge coaching the Arnold Palmer Cup for the first time?
My biggest challenge in coaching the Palmer Cup for the first time will be to, in a timely fashion, prepare our team to meet the match play aspects of the competition. Andrew and I are already formulating our plans, as we know the opposing team will bring their best golf.
4. One of your current players, Doug Ghim, who played in last year's match at Formby will be playing in Atlanta. How special is it to have one of your own alongside you as you represent the United States? Have you spoken to him about what he learned last year and how this year's team might benefit?
Doug Ghim is a special person, and it is a privilege to coach him on a daily basis. He is a wonderful competitor who loves every aspect of golf.
He and his dad have a true respect for our game, and he will bring intensity, desire and energy. I'm so proud that he has earned his way to a second Arnold Palmer Cup.
5. What are you looking forward to the most at the event?
My wife Pearl and I have always set goals. Personal, family and team are at the forefront of thoughts. Conference championships, regional championships and national championships hold special meaning. PGA Tour winners, successful alumni in golf and life, along with major champions top one of our lists.
To be sure, sharing the Arnold Palmer Cup with Pearl is a dream come true.
1. You are the first former Arnold Palmer Cup participant and assistant coach to be named a head coach. What unique experiences do you believe you will bring to Team Europe?
Yeah, obviously for me with this being my fifth Arnold Palmer Cup that I have been a part of as a player or coach, I have experienced the matches before and know what to expect throughout the week. That familiarity will be helpful for sure.
With only two days of practice with the team to prepare before the event, that experience should come in handy.
2. You competed in the U.S. in 2001 and 2003 at Baltusrol Golf Club and Cassique then served as the assistant coach in 2012 at Royal County Down in Northern Ireland. The courses and conditions are obviously significantly different, depending on which side of the pond you're playing. What will you do to help prepare your team for Atlanta Athletic Club?
There's not much I can do before we get to Atlanta as all the players are still finishing up their seasons with their respective universities, but when we get there we will do a good job in the practice rounds of getting to know the course and coming up with a game plan for the week.
Obviously, with 9 of our 10 players based in the U.S. for college, they are already familiar with the conditions in the U.S., and really all of them will be comfortable playing on Bermuda grass given their tournament schedules and all coming from universities with warm-weather grasses to practice on.
3. International golfers seem to rise to the occasion anytime they are playing in an international team event against the USA. Why do you think this happens?
I think in most cases when an international team comes to play the U.S. on home soil, they are considered to be the underdog, and for me that is a great position to be in when you can embrace that role. The pressure will be on the U.S. to win at home, so we can really just focus on playing our best golf knowing that if we do that we have a fighting chance.
The team that has nothing to lose and everything to gain is a dangerous one, especially in match play, and that's the mentality we will play with.
4. Only two times in the history of the Arnold Palmer Cup has Team Europe won on American soil. Share your thoughts regarding this part of history of the matches. Will you share this with your team?
Well, it was amazing to be a part of the first European Team to win in the U.S. in 2003 at Kiawah Island, so I will for sure be able to share my experiences about that week with the players.
It is also worth noting that while Europe has only won twice on American soil, the U.S. has only won once in Europe since we went to a European team in 2003. Obviously, home advantage is important, but we've had more success doing it than them, and I'm sure that our players' familiarity with playing in the U.S. will help us in that regard.
5. Finally, what is your favorite memory from your time at the Arnold Palmer Cup in either 2001, 2003, 2011 or 2012?
Oooh! Hard to choose just one.
As a player, my favorite memory has to be winning at Kiawah in 2003. Similar to this year, we were the underdogs that year but just played fantastically all week. I think our team had four hole outs from the fairway during the matches, and the level of golf we played was just phenomenal.
As a coach, my favorite memory was our final-day comeback in 2012 at Royal County Down. We were four points behind going into the final singles and won the session 7.5-0.5. It was just incredible the way our guys played and was the gutsiest display of golf I've ever seen from any team.