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- By Lisa D. Mickey
Like many members of the LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals, Nancy Quarcelino always knew her heart was in teaching. And like many others, she did a lot of other things before circling back to what she loved best.
Nancy served as a college coach, assistant pro, head pro, director of golf, general manager and then started her own golf school. But in the end, she returned to hands-on teaching and landed where she wanted to be with professional influences from many talented people around her.
“I’ve done a lot of things in my career – all within the same game – but the teaching part is what drives me,” said Quarcelino, a member of both the LPGA and the PGA of America for 26 years. “Learning about the game and helping people get better in golf has been a highlight for a long time.”
Quarcelino will join Mary Dagraedt and Nell Frewin-Hays on August 19 as the most recent inductees into the LPGA T&CP Hall of Fame. It is an honor Quarcelino says caught her by surprise.
“There are a lot of worthy people out there, and this is an honor and a privilege,” she said. “I’m being inducted with two great individuals.”
Quarcelino was destined to play golf. Her father held a 2-handicap and her mother played to a handicap of 10. She used to swim at the pool while her parents played golf, but when she was 8, they would pick her up at the pool, dry her off and the family would play nine holes together.
“They loved golf and got me hooked on it,” she said.
Her family belonged to a nine-hole golf course in her home state of Kentucky, but her father’s job with Peabody Coal Company moved the family to Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, back to Colorado, then to Missouri and finally back to Kentucky. Her high school did not have a girls’ golf team, so Quarcelino played in Kentucky women’s amateur events.
During the summer before her freshman year in college, her parents sent Quarcelino to her first golf school. It was the Golf Digest Golf School, a weeklong instructional school in Boyne Highlands, Mich. It was there where she first encountered Golf Digest Top-100 Teachers, Peter Kostis, Jim Flick, Shelby Futch and Bob Toski.
“They gave me a thirst to learn and to keep learning about this game,” she said. “I still have my notes from that golf school.”
When she went to college, Western Kentucky University did not have a women’s golf team, so Quarcelino helped form a women’s team during her sophomore year and played on the squad for three years.
Her first job was as an assistant coach for the women’s golf team at Florida State University, where she went to graduate school. She then served as the Seminoles’ interim head coach for six months until family illness took her back to Kentucky.
Already, Quarcelino knew she wanted a career in golf, so she made an effort to surround herself with veteran teachers and to listen and learn from giants in the industry. Early in her career, she spent three days with PGA Master Professionals Michael Hebron, Dr. Gary Wiren, Wally Armstrong and Harvey Penick.
She also spent time with veteran LPGA teaching professionals Carol Johnson, former University of Akron Women’s Golf Coach Betty Lou Evans, Dr. DeDe Owens and former Memphis State University Women’s Golf Coach Lynn Parks.
“I learned so much by spending time with veteran teachers and coaches,” said Quarcelino. “They taught me how to organize clinics and drills.”
When she decided to open her own golf school – the Nancy Quarcelino School of Golf -- Quarcelino called Dr. Betsy Clark for advice. The two spent hours on the telephone outlining details about how to organize an instructional facility. Even now, it’s not uncommon for the Tennessee resident to pick the brains of veteran teaching professionals Gale Peterson and Dana Rader.
Of course, Quarcelino also quickly became one of the “big names” in golf. She served as an officer in the LPGA’s Southeast Section, served on national committees, and established in 1994 the first chapter of the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program in Tennessee, to which she has remained both a site director and instructor.
She also served as the head professional at Hermitage Golf Course in Old Hickory, Tenn., and was instrumental in bringing the LPGA tour to Nashville, where the Sara Lee Classic was held for 11 years.
In addition, Quarcelino received the LPGA T&CP National Teacher of the Year award in 2000. She has been named a GOLF Magazine Top-100 Teacher six times in the last 12 years, a Golf Digest Top-50 Women’s Teacher, and is a three-time Tennessee PGA Teacher of the Year. In 2012, she received the Richard Eller Growth of the Game Award from the Tennessee PGA of America.
She dreams of someday opening a golf training facility where experienced teachers may groom young instructors, and where tips and techniques may be exchanged openly to benefit students of all levels.
“I feel like I’ve earned my gray hair,” laughed Quarcelino. “And I hope I’ve helped others help their students. The goal is always to teach them a game they can play for the rest of their lives.”