Former Michigan State Golf Coach and GCAA Hall of Fame Member Bruce Fossum Passes Away At Age 86
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Legendary Michigan State men’s golf coach Bruce Fossum died on Tuesday, March 11, in his hometown of Okemos, Mich. He was 86.
Fossum spent 25 years as head coach of the Michigan State men’s golf program, holding the position from 1965-1989, before returning for one season in 1998-99. He coached the Spartans to their first Big Ten title in 1969, as part of a string of 10-consecutive top-5 finishes at the conference tournament. In all, he had 16 top-five finishes, including eight years in the top-three. Individually, 10 Spartans had top-five finishes at the conference tournament under his watch, earning All-Big Ten honors in the process.
Fossum coached 10 All-Americans and one Academic All-American during his tenure, leading five teams, and six other individuals to the NCAA Tournament, finishing as high as sixth in 1967. In addition, Fossum remains the winningest coach in Spartan history with 17 tournament victories.
Fossum was inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) Hall of Fame in 1985, and followed by his wife Mary in 1988, becoming the first husband-wife combination in GCAA Hall of Fame history. In addition, he was the chairman of the NCAA Golf Committee in 1971 and 1975, and president of the GCAA from 1977-79. Fossum also was inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame in 2007.
His biggest legacy may have been his golf instruction in the Greater Lansing area. Since moving to the area in 1959, Fossum has taught many locals the game of golf, mainly at the Forest Akers Golf Course and the FunTyme Okemos Golf Dome. He was also a professor at Michigan State for over 30 years, and authored two books –GOLFandGolf Made Easier Not Easy.
Prior to becoming head men’s golf coach, Fossum was an assistant coach for the Michigan State men’s basketball program from 1959-65.
Born on Jan. 16, 1928, Fossum is survived by his wife, Mary, and their four children, nine grandchildren and one great grandchild. A memorial will be held at a later date.
Remembering Bruce Fossum …
Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis:
“My thoughts and prayers are with the Fossum family, after hearing the news of Bruce’s passing. Bruce and his wife Mary mean so much to the Michigan State and Greater Lansing golf communities. The impact that Bruce has had on so many people - as a teacher, a coach, a father and a friend – is immeasurable. The Fossum name will forever be synonymous with Spartan golf.”
Michigan State men’s golf coach Casey Lubahn:
“We were deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of Coach Bruce Fossum. It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to a coaching legend, mentor and dear friend.
“Coach Fossum has been a fixture in this community for over 50 years and has touched countless people along the way. His legacy as a coach, professor, instructor and author will always be a part of the great tradition of Michigan State University and our golf programs. However, I will remember him as a husband, father, grandfather and friend – who always had time for others who needed a helping hand.
“While we will miss Coach so much, we are honored to continue on the legacy and foundation he has built for all of us who are fortunate enough to follow in his footsteps here at Spartan golf.”
Michigan State women’s golf coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll:
“It’s a sad day for all of us and for Spartan golf. For me, Mary and Bruce go hand-in-hand. I always knew when I was a student-athlete at Michigan State that they were the only husband and wife coaching team in the nation, which was very special to us as players. Mary was our coach, but we also had Bruce there as our coach as well, because that was his nature and that’s who he was. He was just an incredible resource.
“As my time went on at Michigan State, they became more and more like family to me. My own child (10-year-old daughter, Olivia) calls them Grandma Mar-Mar and Grandpa Bruce. They’ve not only supported me, but every student-athlete that they’ve coached; Bruce had such an effect on so many young people.
“A great story about Bruce is that Casey (Lubahn) and I got to meet Jack Nicklaus last fall at Oakland Hills, and I was telling Bruce about this wonderful opportunity to meet Jack Nicklaus, and Bruce goes, ‘Well, you make sure to tell Jack that Michigan State is the only place that he ever lost in college.’ Bruce even remembered what scores Jack shot and who he lost to.
“Bruce watched not only men’s golf evolve into what it is today, but also our team, and helped Mary along the way, and helped me along the way. Bruce and Mary were always there when I wanted to talk about golf, and they could give my advice on any situation. I can only imagine all of the conversations they had together about their teams. Bruce was an integral part of the Spartan golf family and he will be dearly missed.”