Grant Milner hired as Mizzou’s assistant golf coach
He’s a been a golfer and a journalist, and now Mizzou’s assistant golf coach Grant Milner brings communication to the links.
Sep. 29, 2015
For the first time since 2013, when he talked to the Memphis Tiger Network prior to that year’s NCAA golf tournament, Grant Milner was the focus of an interview.
Sitting behind a desk in an office, his office, as Mizzou’s new assistant golf coach — in effect since the start of September — feels different, Milner said. So does wearing team colors and tweeting with a Mizzou bias.
Why? Because since 2013 he’s been on the other side: a journalist, reporting on Memphis football and basketball, wearing multi-colored polos and tweeting objectively.
But prior to his venture within the realm of journalism, he excelled on the links for Memphis’s golf program.
“I wasn’t the greatest player coming out of high school, but I tried to work as hard as I possibly could,” Milner said. “Just like I did in my previous career, just try to make a name for myself, that’s what I tried to do.”
As a junior, Milner helped lead Memphis’s golf team to its third-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and, that same year, he was named the Conference USA Men's Golf Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Post graduation, Milner began to pursue a career in journalism and found a home with GoTigers247.com (formerly MemphisRoar.com). After two years working on the Memphis beat, the opportunity to become an assistant golf coach in the Southeastern Conference presented itself.
“For me, I wasn’t actively trying to get out of the (media) business,” Milner said. “But at the same time, the opportunity to start out coaching in the SEC was pretty much too good to pass up.”
It’s in talking to recruits, it’s in planning practices, and it’s in collaborating with the players on strategies that’ll improve their games. Communication, the focus in journalism, underlies it all.
That alone was what fascinated Mizzou’s head golf coach Mark Leroux the most.
“Because of his background, it was very intriguing,” Leroux said. “You know, his coach (at Memphis), Grant Robbins, is the one that turned me onto him and said, ‘Hey, you need to check this guy out.’”
After Leroux called Milner and inquired about the job, Milner thought he’d reach out to former Memphis athletics staff members and now Mizzou’s deputy director of athletics Wren Baker and senior associate athletics director Ryan Bradley.
“I just said, ‘Look, you know, I’m in this position, I know you’re new there and I’m not expecting you to be able to part the waters or anything,’” Milner told Baker. “When I came up here on my interview, Wren gave me a glowing review, which he didn’t have to do. The reality is, he helped me out a ton when I was at Memphis, and I probably owe him more than he owes me.”
Leaving Memphis, though, wasn’t easy.
Milner still notes that his dream job was to be a football play-by-play guy for the Memphis Tigers.
“When I was in college, I started to do play-by-play for student radio,” Milner said. “I always said that I wanted to be the Dave Woloshin, who’s the voice of the Tigers at Memphis, like I’ve always thought that would be the greatest job.”
Robbins, who now coaches at Kansas State, was surprised when Milner reached out about possibly shifting gears back to golf.
He’d heard him on the radio, he’d read his work, so he was a bit confused when Milner said he’d be interested in getting into coaching.
“Grant was really good at what he was doing, and I always thought he was going to pursue that route,” Robbins said. “But when he was in school, he was always that guy that would meet with recruits, so it made sense.”
The recruiting trail is a place that Memphis basketball coach Josh Pastner thinks he’ll thrive at, as well. Although he’s from Knoxville, his roots in Memphis run deep.
Pastner worked with Milner daily and speaks highly of the 24-year-old.
“His ability to relate and his work ethic stood out,” Pastner said. “We would agree to disagree and we had our battles at times, but I always respected how hard he worked. That was impressive to me.”
Milner enjoys writing letters to recruits and Milner works hard sending packets of information on Mizzou.
It’s the same work ethic that many around him see, and it’s the same work ethic that has allowed him to succeed in every setting.
“He will have the opportunities to do whatever he wants to do,” Pastner said. “He is going to be a wanted individual.”