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Paul Azinger began his athletic career as a high school standout in gymnastics and football, graduating with honors from Andover High School in Marblehead, Mass. After receiving the honor of playing in three major professional tennis tournaments at the age of 17, Azinger went on to graduate with a degree in journalism and eventually make his career on the court and on the golf course. He is currently a commentator for ESPN’s golf coverage.
Azinger has won 13 PGA TOUR events and earned 30 professional awards in his career, including the 2006 Honda Classic and the 2005 AT&T National at Congressional Golf Club in Bethesda, Md. He is the recipient of the Most Outstanding Player Award from The PGA TOUR and the W.C. Apple Award. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012.
Missing out on a chance to finish on the PGA TOUR Champions Tour to celebrate his 60th birthday, Azinger went back to a college sport where he had success – football. He had a redshirt season in football at the University of New Hampshire in 1990 and enrolled in business school at Harvard Business School in 1992. An athletic scholarship at UNH helped pay for his college education and established him on the competitive playing level, but Azinger sought out a coaching career. He was hired as the quarterback coach at Harvard and was a graduate assistant in coaching his first NFL team, the Los Angeles Rams. He also coached in the NFL, coaching the Seattle Seahawks in 1994 and then serving as the Denver Broncos’ offensive coordinator. Azinger’s philosophy to get players to their best was rooted in his time in high school football, where he played under coaches from basketball coaches to football coaches to baseball coaches. He learned not only what position a player should play, but how to apply the necessary tools in preparation and technique.
When college coaches would arrive on campus, Azinger’s coaching philosophy always required “everybody in” the program. If everyone met expectations, then every player would perform at a high level. “In everyone is a talent.”
Azinger began his professional career as a traveling professional golfer and qualified for The Jack Nicklaus Educational Foundation’s Experience Golf Youth Tour in 1990. He was paired with Bill Murray, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Costner, who directed the tournament. Azinger was the youngest golfer on that tour, and one of the top 10 rookies in the history of tour professional golf.
One year later, Azinger and other rookie players were inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. He continues to excel in his duties as the television analyst for ESPN’s golf coverage and also works as an analyst for Golf Channel Live Extra. He is a firm believer in the saying, “it’s never too late” to start over, regardless of your circumstances. In 1996, the mayor of Massachusetts appointed Azinger to the city’s Board of Public Works, representing the 1.8 million citizens of Boston. Through his professional experience, Azinger learned that as a young man, you are either ready to make a decision to take what comes, or to wait until you are ready. To keep doing what you love to do in your later years, you must learn to believe in your own abilities.
Editor’s note: This story was first published by The New York Times.