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Craig Griswold set to join UO Athletics Hall of Fame

Craig Griswold grew up in a hilltop home bordering Oswego Lake Country Club. His father, George, was a 2- or 3-handicap player and once won the club championship. It was only natural that Craig would fall in love with the game.

“From about age 8 on, I spent every summer day on the course,” he says.

by: COURTESY OF RON MASON - Craig Griswold, who played golf for the Oregon Ducks from 1970-73, will be inducted this weekend into the school's Athletics Hall of Fame.Craig made the most of his golf experiences, from the junior and high school ranks through college and beyond.

On Saturday, the 1973 University of Oregon graduate will be inducted into the Ducks' Athletics Hall of Fame. Griswold and the other inductees will be honored at halftime of the 7 p.m. football game against Washington State at Autzen Stadium. The formal induction takes place at a Friday night banquet at the Stadium Club.

Griswold is being recognized for a stellar collegiate career that included two Pac-8 Conference individual championships (1970 and 1972) and first-team All-America honors in 1972.

In the ’72 conference tournament, he beat a field that included Craig Stadler, as he topped the future PGA Tour star and 1982 Masters champion by one shot.

Griswold showed such promise as a junior golfer that Oswego Lake head pro Bob McKendrick often invited him to play with local pros, such former PGA Tour pro Bob Duden, who was a dominant golfer in the section for many years.

“Bob was very supportive of junior golf,” Griswold said.

Griswold dominated junior and high school golf in Oregon during the late '60s.

His triumphs included firsts in the Oregon Golf Association 15-year-old division and Pacific Northwest Golf Association 17-year-and-under classification. He also won the state high school individual championship his junior year at Lake Oswego High and tied for medalist honors as a senior. In that final prep tournament for the Lakers, he birdied two of the last three holes as LO overcame a four-stroke team deficit and tied South Salem — and then won in a playoff to successfully defend its 1968 crown.

Griswold played three years for the Lakers, and the 1967 team placed second to Medford.

Growing up with parents (George and Janet) who were U of O graduates, it seemed fitting for Craig to be a Duck. His dad often took him to football games and track and field meets at Oregon.

Transitioning to college golf, Griswold found the courses longer and tougher.

“It was fun to have Eugene Country Club as our home course,” he says.

He enjoyed the competition and friendships with his teammates, who included David Glenz, Pat Fitzsimons, David Jacobsen and Doug Roxburgh, a Canadian Amateur champion.

by: COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF OREGON - Craig Griswold, as a member of the Oregon Ducks golf teamAt 5-7 and 140 pounds, Griswold was a natural athlete who made up for his lack of size by emphasizing a strong work ethic that included strength and conditioning work. He patterned himself after the legendary Gary Player, winner of nine major championships and the pioneer of fitness for golfers worldwide.

“He was my model when I was young," Griswold says. "And I liked to practice.”

When he played for Oregon, “it was hard to get your schoolwork done.” Griswold says it’s better for the Duck student-golfers now. “They have the John Jaqua (Academic) Center and you can study online. More tutors are available.”

Still, with just two semesters of extra work, Griswold was able to complete his degree, following in the footsteps of his father and mother.

His suggestion to college players today is to be very organized.

“You have to compartmentalize your life — really concentrating on golf when playing and concentrating on studying when doing academics.”

Griswold also notes that college and junior players today participate in more tournaments than they did in his day. When he played in college, the fall season included limited qualifying, and most of the tournaments and matches were in the spring. Now the college season is busy in both fall and spring. And young elite players are specializing — playing golf year-round and opting to not participate in other sports.

After college, Griswold played three times in the brutal PGA Tour Qualifier, which would have about 500 players competing for 25 spots. He finished in the top 50 once.

He was successful in regional tournaments, winning both the Oregon Open and PNGA Open.

Griswold received his first opportunity to get involved in the club pro business when hired by Buck McKendrick, a longtime assistant pro at Oswego Lake who offered him at position at Emerald Valley Golf Course in Creswell.

“I found I liked every aspect of the club pro business," Griswold says.

Over the past four decades, Griswold has served as a club and teaching pro for a number of public, resort and private golf facilities. He learned from many great mentors, including Columbia Edgewater Country Club and Black Butte pro Bunny Mason.

These days, Griswold is a teaching pro at The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club in Aloha.

Teaching golf has become his passion.

“I love teaching and helping people,” he says. “Teaching golf is somewhere between an art and science. It’s important that you don’t make it too complicated. It all needs to be put into words that will help them.”

Griswold says the biggest problem for right-handed players is the slice. And he says the other major challenge for the average golfer is that the low point of their swing is behind the ball, so they hit either “fat” or “thin.”

“Golf is still fun to play,” Griswold says. “Different players of different abilities can play together and have a good time.”

Equipment in the game has changed vastly, too, since Griswold was a top junior player.

“You’ve got bigger clubheads, creating a trampoline effect at impact,” he says. “Shafts have lengthened from 43 to 43 1/2 inches to 45 to 46 inches, and the ball is a lot hotter.”

This weekend will be an exciting and eventful one for Griswold and the other inductees, who are former Duck football star Latin Berry, ex-UO women's track and field and cross-country coach Tom Heinonen, longtime track and field administrator Bob Newland Sr., former assistant football coach Joe Schaffeld and the 1987 NCAA champion women's cross-country team.

Thursday evening’s activities will include a fundraiser dinner/auction and “fireside chat” with football coach Mark Helfrich at Eugene Country Club.

Friday’s main event is the Legends Cup golf tournament, also at Eugene CC. Two teams, captained by Peter Jacobsen and UO men's golf coach Casey Martin, will compete.

Then comes the induction ceremony on Friday and the halftime recognition during Saturday's UO-WSU game.

“It’s such an honor," Griswold says. "I very much appreciate it.”