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Les Bolstad was associated with all aspects of Minnesota golf for half a century.

Bolstad, who was born in New Prague, Minn., and raised in Minneapolis, won numerous state golf championships and coached the University of Minnesota men's golf team for 30 years.

"If John Mariucci was the father of hockey in Minnesota, then Les was Mr. Golf in the state," former Gophers golfer John Harris to the Star Tribune in 1998. "He was the consummate instructor, but he taught you about more than just the mechanics of the game. He taught you about the philosophy of golf, too."

In 1926, at age 18, Bolstad became the youngest winner of a U.S. Public Links title. As a golfer at the University of Minnesota, he won Big Ten titles in 1927 and 1929.

He was the first golfer to win the state Public Links, State Amateur and State Open. In 1944, Bolstad and Joe Coria combined to set a National PGA Best-Ball record score of 59, 14 strokes under par.

He became the Gophers coach in 1947. During his three decades as the Gophers coach, the Gophers won two Big Ten team titles and had four individual Big Ten champions.

It was as a golf instructor, however, that Bolstad gained his greatest fame. His first protege was Patty Berg.

Berg told the Star Tribune in 1998 that she first saw Bolstad play when she was 14, and "immediately wanted to take lessons from him to learn how to play bunker shots and chip and pitch. Les was one of the best friends I ever had. He was a builder of champions. I took lessons from him for more than 40 years.

"His teaching was tremendous. He had a lot of the players on the LPGA (tour) come see him for lessons. Whenever I was having any problems with my game, no matter where I was, I would come back to Minnesota to get some lessons from him."

Bolstad is a member of the Collegiate Golf Coaches Hall of Fame and the 'M' Club Hall of Fame. In 1983, the University named its golf course after Bolstad.


Class: 1972.

Sport: Golf.

Team: Gophers.