Demarco Moore, Sports Writer
Tyler Freeman gave teaching a try after graduating from Martin Methodist College in 2014.
The Coffee County High School alumnus and former Red Raider golfer made brief teaching and coaching stops at Warren County and Coffee County High School, but soon discovered his heart was elsewhere.
But each stop, in addition to Freeman’s strong ties with golf in Coffee County, helped prepare him to become the head men’s golf coach at Belhaven University in Jackson, Miss.
“This is what I want to do,” said Freeman, who was officially hired on Jan. 15.
“I originally set out, after graduating high school, to be a high school math teacher and coach golf. And I learned pretty quickly, within two years, that the teaching math aspect wasn’t what I thought it was gonna’ be. And I decided to pursue golf.”
Freeman, 27, left Coffee County and became a graduate assistant at Shorter University (Rome, Ga.) in the fall of 2016, where he would spend 18 months molding and growing at the collegiate level.
“I learned quite a bit about the college team, and how recruiting works at the Division-2 level – of course it’s different for Division-3 [at Belhaven],” he explained.
All the while, Freeman was doubling down on his coaches training back home with the Coffee County Junior Golf Association, taking tips from the like of Jakes Wilson, Ned Michaels and Barry Bishop, whom he considered mentors on his path to Belhaven.
“They really helped me to understand the game, how to be a coach, how to view someone’s swing and make suggestions for things to work on to make them a better golfer,” Freeman said.
“That really stayed with me throughout the years.”
So just how did Freeman get to Belhaven from Shorter?
He got a little help from a familiar coach at Belhaven’s neighboring college, Millsaps, which is just a few blocks away from Belhaven, he said.
“My cousin’s coach [Jack Belote], he actually told me about the position,” Freeman explained.
“I had met him previously when I was at Shorter, and also while that coach was recruiting my cousin. He told me he would be on the lookout for a job to help me out, and it just so happened that one opened up here at Belhaven, right about the time I was graduating from Shorter.
He kind of led me in the right direction; put me in touch with the right people – with the Athletic Director, Scott Little, here at Belhaven.”
The rest is history for Freeman, who sees Belhaven as a permanent landing spot.
One of his former coaches says becoming a head coach has always been in the cards for Freeman, ever since he was back at Coffee County.
“He was always very technical as far as like learning the game and talking about it,” said former CCHS golf coach Bradley Costello, who coached Freeman for his first three years of high school golf.
“Whether helping a teammate out with their swing, or just talking about a golf swing – he was always very technical.”
And in addition to helping the Blazer golfers fix their swings on a full-time basis, Freeman hopes to instill a unique level of discipline into his student-athletes.
“That’s one thing that I’ve learned over the years that’s really crucial… you have to keep yourself in check,” he said.
“You have to be willing to sacrifice a little bit. As in: maybe on a particular hole that you’re playing, you get out of position.
And so, you’re not in a spot where you can make a great score. So you have to limit the damage, as in, you want to find a way to make par instead of bogey. That’s kind of being disciplined in your game.”
Reach Demarco Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter, @iam__demo