Saturday, May 06, 2006

Stan Altgelt Passes Away at Age 57

Golf instructor Stan Altgelt died last Tuesday at his home in San Antonio, the result of a blood clot on his lung.

Altgelt, a Corpus Christi native, spent the last third of his life as a golf instructor. His approach was to focus on the body's role in the golf swing - how the muscles work to put it all together. "When you practice for months on one movement," Altgelt told the San Antonio Express-News in 2004, "you get a real awareness of one part of the body. As you start working on the whole swing, you really know and sense what everything is doing. You even know what your eyelashes and earlobes are doing."

What made Altgelt's approach all the more unusual is that since 1994, when he suffered a spinal injury in a fall from a deer blind, Altgelt had been confined to a wheelchair.

Stan Altgelt was a star of Texas golf in the late '60s and '70s. He played on the SMU golf team from 1969-72, then spent 1975-84 on the PGA Tour. His results weren't great, but his reputation was:

"He was a very strong, physical ball striker," said Ben Crenshaw, who first met Altgelt when both were in college. "He had a beautiful swing. He struck the ball with a lot of authority, but he also hit the ball with the middle of the clubface so many times."

Briggs Ranch partner Bill Rogers, who won the British Open in 1981, said Altgelt was one of the tour's most revered players.

"Stan had as much talent as anyone that has picked up a golf club," Rogers said. "He had strength, mechanics, fundamentals and no one worked harder. It was beautiful to watch him play."

Chronic back problems that first appeared in his rookie season on tour limited what Altgelt would accomplish as a tour professional. But not even the spinal injury suffered in 1994 would limit his accomplishments as a teacher.

Altgelt applied lessons learned from ballet - his mother was a ballet instructor and, his obituary in the San Antonio paper said, he was taught "the mechanics of physical motion" by a Russian ballerina - to the golf swing, hence his focus on the phsyicality of the swing.

While Altgelt wasn't the best-known instructor in San Antonio - he felt potential students were often scared off by the thought of taking lessons from someone in a wheelchair - he was among the accomplished. His students - including Alan Hill and George Fillis - have dominated the San Antonio city golf championships over the past decade.

From the obituary:

"He really helped you in accomplishing your goals, but he would also become your friend," Fillis said. "That pervaded our relationship. If you showed some interest, he would go the extra miles for you."

1 comment:

  1. Stan Altgelt was highly respected a outstanding golfer and later on in life as a teacher. He not only taught me how to swing a golf club, get myself around the course, but also taught how to lead my life. Stan will be missed by many

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