SHERBURN -- Martin County West head golf coach Jeff Ross has seen a lot of things in his 25 years at the helm of the boys and girls programs.
Ross has had golfers play for Division I programs as well as teams and individuals qualify for the state meet. This year, Ross has been named to the Minnesota State Golf Coaches Association's Hall of Fame for all of his service and success.
"This is pretty humbling and it came out of nowhere," said Ross. "I got the letter and fell right down in my chair when I read it. I don't know what I've done to deserve it, but I'm honored."
INSTRUCTIONAL CHAT — Martin County West head coach Jeff Ross gives pre-meet instructions to prep golfers at Fox Lake Golf Course near Sherburn on Monday. Ross has been selected to the Minnesota State High School Golf Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame. The Maverick coach will be formally inducted into the Hall during this spring’s state golf tournament banquet. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)
While winning has never been a focus for Ross throughout his 39-year coaching career, it seems to follow him at least on the fairways.
Of the 26 seasons that Ross has been a head coach, the Martin County West boys golf team has won the conference title at least 20 times, and the Maverick girls have been on top for about half of those years as well.
"My focus each and every year is to make sure that the kids are out here having fun," said Ross. "If they are having fun, they enjoy putting the time in and they'll get better. But I never stress to them the importance of winning."
When Ross took over running the Fox Lake Golf Course 27 years ago, he started the youth golf program and that has helped the high school program to be one of the top ones in southern Minnesota.
"I think that there has been maybe one year while I've been a coach that we haven't had a player or team at the state tournament," said Ross. "I don't know how much I've had to do with that, but that is impressive when you think about it in that way."
Senior Cordell Weber is just one example of the type of success that Ross has seen throughout his career, and his most recent state champion.
Weber won the Class A state title in 2012, shooting a 71-73-144 for an even-par 36-hole round at Pebble Creek Golf Club in Becker.
"The Weber family is an example of a family that has worked hard and had success on the golf course," said Ross. "Keeping the families like that in a program like ours is huge. Cordell was out here when he was 4 (years old) chipping and putting. I can't explain the feeling to watch him go from there to standing on a podium as the state champion."
And the relationships that Ross has developed with his players and their families over the years may be one of the best parts about his job.
"I think as a coach the best thing is similar to teaching, when you see the look on their face when they make a long putt or the light goes on when they understand what you're telling them," said Ross. "The kids, and laughing and crying with them, helping them learn about life, that's the best part about golf."
Throughout his career, Ross even got the chance to coach his own children and still holds those memories close to his heart.
"My family has been so great. Without my wife's support, I don't think any of this is possible," said Ross. "And coaching my kids, to see them grow and mature and to experience that with them, those are some of the things I won't ever forget."
And no one is expecting Ross to give up his duties any time soon, with the upcoming players continuing the Mavericks' strong tradition.
"I had a heart attack a while back, and they had to shock me on the table and bring me back," said Ross. "When I think about that, it just makes you enjoy everything you have and all the time you get. Considering that, everything I've had since then is just a bonus, not many people get a second chance."
For everything that he's done in the past and all that he's sure to do in the future for the Martin County West golf programs, Jeff Ross will be honored at this year's state golf banquet as a part of the Minnesota State Golf Coaches Association's Hall of Fame.