West-Smith to take over Alcorn St. golfPublished 12:12am Wednesday, June 12, 2013
By Reina Kempt
The Natchez Democrat
NATCHEZ — In January of this year, Alcorn State formally announced hiring Lynette West-Smith as their new head golf coach. What they didn’t announce is that West-Smith is the first African-American female head golf coach in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
West-Smith is not just a golf coach; she is an avid golfer who has won several first place awards such as the Gulf Coast Par Buster, Lady Drivers Tournament, Harvest Club Invitational and the Boot Walker Golf Classic.
She said she learned everything about golf, and life, from her father, Henry Eddie.
“My father taught me about golf, and his father taught him,” West-Smith said. “He taught me everything from life lessons to golf lessons.”
West-Smith said she became so passionate about golf through the bond she has with her father.
“I owe all my golfing knowledge to him. It’s in my genes,” she said. “We would practice after school every afternoon by the train at Duncan Park — perfecting my swing. They would say I had a pretty or smooth swing and it was better than my dad’s. Since then I have inherited the name ‘Lil Eddie.’”
The Natchez native said she started golf at a late age but picked up on the craft fairly quickly.
“I didn’t start off as young as I would have liked,” she said. “I started around 16 but my skill level now is remarkable to say I started so late.”
With knowing how late she started playing golf, and with the sport running in the family, West-Smith is making sure to start her daughter off at an early age.
“I bought my two year old a set of golf clubs,” she said.
She attended Natchez High School where she played golf and the hard work and hours of training with her father led to bigger things.
“By passing on his knowledge to me, I was able to land a golf scholarship to Texas Southern University from high school,” she said. “It was an honor to advance to the collegiate level.”
After college she pursued her golf career by passing the Player’s Ability Test and participating in the qualifying school for the LPGA and Duramed Futures Golf Tour.
Though she wasn’t able to make it to the second cutting day, she found herself to also be passionate in other aspects of golf — as a coach.
She hosted her own youth golf camp and from there pursued becoming a golf coach.
West-Smith accepted the job at Alcorn and she said it couldn’t have worked out any better.
“It is awesome to be able to do what I love and still be close to home,” she said.
Being a female head coach over the men’s, as well as the women’s, golf team could be seen as a conflict. It is not often that a woman coaches a men’s team in any sport, but Smith said that won’t be a factor at Alcorn.
“My skill level speaks for itself,” she said. “True respect comes from your game.”
Once school starts again, West-Smith said they’ll be practicing in Natchez at Duncan Park.
“We’ll practice three times a week and play twice a week,” West-Smith said. “We’ll work on our short game, chipping, putting as well as long game and approach shots.”
Though West-Smith has not had a chance to train with her full roster yet, she sees good things in the future.
“It’s looking pretty good, I’m really excited about the upcoming season,” she said.
As she continues to become a coach and mentor, West-Smith said she still has aspirations to pick back up on her golfing career.
“I would love to try to go back to qualifying school,” West-Smith said. “My father has instilled in me the confidence to never give up and that I’m as good as the girls on tour.”
But as of the near future, her main focus is bringing Alcorn State golf where they’ve never been before.
“I think great things will come about with me being coach,” West-Smith said. “I think I will be able to put Alcorn golf on the map.”