Oklahoma State athletic director, Mike Holder, joined Mike McGraw’s “Better Than I Found It” podcast in the first of two episodes that was released on Monday.
McGraw served under Holder as an assistant when Holder was the head coach of OSU’s golf team. Now McGraw’s the head coach of Baylor’s golf program.
They began the podcast by talking about Holder’s childhood and his journey to OSU.
McGraw mentioned to Holder that he grew up a University of Oklahoma fan. Holder planned on playing golf for OU, but his high school recommended he go visit OSU before making an official decision.
“No one at Ardmore High School was going to go to Oklahoma State,” Holder said. “I couldn’t imagine going.”
But his coach was persistent. He set up an unofficial visit with the legendary Labron Harris, a man who served as OSU’s head coach for 23 years for Holder and his father.
“I played nine holes with Labron Harris and in the pro shop they had All-American plaques, and I didn’t even know you could be All-American in golf, that’s how naive I was,” Holder said. “And then I saw a national championship trophy and when I visited Norman . . . I didn’t see any All-American plaques and I didn’t see any national championship trophies.”
After they played, Harris offered him a $500 scholarship, but only if Holder majored in turfgrass. OU, on the other hand, offered him a half-scholarship.
When they were driving back to Ardmore, Holder’s father told him not to worry about the money if he wanted to go to school in Stillwater. His parents saved money his whole life, so he could go to the school of his choosing.
“That meant a lot to me back then but it means even more to me today,” Holder said.
Later in the podcast, McGraw and Holder talked about their relationship as OSU golf coaches. It was in this segment that Holder’s sense of humor broke through as the star of the show.
Holder said he’s never met anybody with as positive an attitude as McGraw. Holder always tried to get under his skin. But McGraw said he was like Teflon. Anything Holder said would slide right off.
“Every single day I’d try to say something to get [McGraw] upset and I couldn’t do it,” Holder said.
Back in the late ’90s, a golf team could only have one coach on the course at a time, a rule that Holder and McGraw describe as archaic. There was one weekend in which OSU competed at the Dallas Athletic Club, and for the first time in his tenure, Holder let McGraw coach by himself.
The team performed miserably that weekend and in the end, Holder told McGraw there was a silver lining.
“We’re going to play again next week and I’m going to be the coach,” Holder said. “And you’re going to really make me look good.”
Of course Holder said this as a joke. He took pride in finally getting past Teflon.
The two also talked about their recruitment strategies to attract younger golfers to the program. McGraw asked Holder for advice on recruitment during his first summer at OSU as he’d never had that responsibility before.
“I’m the bad cop and you’re the good cop,” Holder said. “I’m going to cut them off at the knees and you’re going to make them feel good about being short.”
McGraw said he always appreciated Holder’s unconventional tactics as a coach and a recruiter.
“If everybody was trying one thing I’d do the opposite. If you want to be better than everybody, you can’t do what they do,” Holder said. “Being great has nothing to do with being realistic. The only limitation in life is how big you can dream.”
Holder said this is the mindset that has made him successful over the last 50 years.