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September 1, 2019

Honoring a Legacy

Bob Simon Golf Center named in honor of Hamilton College’s longtime professor and golf coach

By: Tony L. Starks

Bob Simon’s legacy at Hamilton College will forever live on through the newly dedicated Bob Simon Golf Center. The beloved philosophy professor and golf coach began his career at Hamilton in 1968 by sharing his knowledge and passion for deep thought and societal values with his students, much of which is reflected in his book Fair Play: Sports, Values and Society.

He later became the golf coach in 1987 and would lead the team to its first NCAA Division III championship appearance in 1999. He also coached five individuals that qualified for the NCAA Championship during that span.

The same love for the game he shared with his team was instilled in his two sons, Bruce and Marc, who both played for him at Hamilton. Marc would later pursue a career in the golf industry and now serves as Director of PGA Golf Exhibitions – which annually conducts the PGA Merchandise Show and the PGA Fashion & Demo Experience.

“My dad made the game fun, and by doing so my brother and I just fell in love with golf,” says Marc. “Many of my closest friends and the experiences I’ve had in life have all stemmed from golf. I owe my dad for all of that.”

As a coach, Simon attended the PGA Show annually to take part in the Golf Coaches Association of America Convention. He reveled in the fact that his son was running the show, but he was there to work. Three years ago, after his retirement, he went to the Show for the first time as a casual attendee. He walked the Show floor aisles, tested demo equipment and spent time with his son.

“We had a blast that week,” says Marc. “It was special to have him there and just enjoying the Show together. It’s a really cool memory.”

Shortly after that time, Simon was diagnosed with a severe form of pancreatic cancer – this news coming after he’d already conquered a bout with prostate cancer. It was a long and arduous battle, but Simon succumbed to the illness on June 1, 2018.

However, ground was broken on the new Bob Simon Golf Center before he passed. He was able to see how much the Hamilton College community and his family appreciated his countless contributions. He recorded a video to eulogize his thanks.

“I’m deeply honored in having this facility named after me. You might think that I’ve had two separate parts of my life… the sports part and the teaching philosophy part – one being physical and the other being mental. But that’s what the great Harvard philosopher W.V. Quine called an untenable dualism. I think there’s a unity between the two,” he said in the video. “I’m teaching people to be analytic, to look for evidence, to recognize weakness and to be able to communicate – especially in times of conflict or disagreement. I was teaching students and student athletes to have a full life through sports, reading and understanding intellectual issues. And mostly to be good citizens who can engage in public discourse. I really hoped I helped Hamilton students and made a contribution to the college.”

Those lasting contributions will now be embodied by the Bob Simon Golf Center, which includes two large teeing areas, an indoor/outdoor teaching center with dual hitting bays, a 14,000-square foot putting green as well as a complete wedge range and short game area. The space will be open to Hamilton College students as well as members of the men’s and women’s golf teams.

“The new Bob Simon Golf Center has been a game-changer for our golf programs and will be a wonderful asset to our Hamilton community,” says Lauren Cupp, Hamilton’s men’s and women’s golf coach. “This is a beautiful way to honor Bob and Joy Simon. All who were fortunate enough to know coach Simon, in the classroom or on the course, will remember his love and passion for Hamilton College and the game of golf. Now every time we practice and speak the Simon name, we will remember his legacy.”