Hall Of Fame Golf Coach Jerry Vroom (1922-2016)

Aug. 12, 2016

San Jose State University's Jerry Vroom, the college coach of PGA and Champions Tour winners Roger Maltbie, Bob Eastwood, Ron Cerrudo, Mark Lye, Mark Wiebe, and Ken Venturi, died on July 29 at age 93 in Cupertino, Calif.

A Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) Hall of Fame enshrinee, Mr. Vroom took San Jose State to 22 consecutive NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championships from 1963 through 1984. The Spartans had nine top-10 team finishes and came within four shots of a second NCAA Championship for the school in 1966 placing number-two to the University of Houston.

As a founding member of the Pacific Coast Athletic Association (PCAA, now known as The Big West) in 1969, San Jose State won seven conference championships under Mr. Vroom's leadership. The Spartans also captured the 1968 West Coast Athletic Conference (WCAC) Championship in 1968.

Twenty-one players earned 27 All-America awards during his head coaching tenure. Two-time second-team All-America Terry Small was the 1964 NCAA individual champion.

"He's truly one of the legends in the game. He meant everything to golf at San Jose State. His relationship with Mr. (Ken) Venturi as well as all of his players and the standards he set live on with us to this day," says current San Jose State men's golf coach John Kennaday.

"He grew the sport. He grew the game. He helped players grow."

His Spartan golfers would go on to win 27 PGA Tour events. Ken Venturi's U.S. Open championship win in 1964 and Roger Maltbie winning the 1985 World Series of Golf in Akron, Ohio, are the most noteworthy. Mr. Venturi (1931-2013) was CBS-TV Sports' lead golf analyst for 35 years. Maltbie remains visible today as NBC-TV's top on-course reporter.


 

 

The 1981 and 1984 PCAA Coach of the Year recipient was inducted into the GCAA Hall of Fame in 1981 and received the 1998 Rolex Honor Award from the College Golf Foundation for outstanding service and contributions to men's collegiate golf. Mr. Vroom also is a member of the San Jose State University Sports Hall of Fame.

"The Sweeper" -- To Friends & Colleagues

"'The `Sweeper' came from Terry Small. Terry had a name for everyone. When Jerry would walk, he would swish his hands back and forth. He would walk like he was sliding. Look at him walk. He's just `sweeping' along," says former San Jose State first-team All-American Ross Randall, who finished second individually at the 1967 NCAA Championships and went on to coach the University of Kansas men's golf teams from 1980 through 2007.

"He was the driving force behind the Western Intercollegiate," added Randall on Mr. Vroom's passion to host one of the top college tournaments in the country. The Western Intercollegiate is the longest standing men's college golf tournament west of the Mississippi River and will be in its 71st year in 2017.

A member of the NCAA Men's Golf Committee while serving as San Jose State's head coach, Mr. Vroom also founded The Topy Cup -- an international exhibition between top college golfers from the United States and Japan.

Overall, Mr. Vroom was a member of the San Jose State athletics department for 36 years. His positions included assistant golf coach (1949-62), men's basketball assistant coach (1953-60), assistant athletics director and business manager (1948-71). He also was a long-time faculty member and held the rank of professor in the University's physical education, human performance and kinesiology departments.

"His greatest strength was his sense of loyalty," says Dick Schwendinger, whom Mr. Vroom coached as a San Jose State basketball player. Schwendinger would succeed Mr. Vroom as the Spartans' men's golf coach after the 1984 season.

Mr. Vroom & Texas Longhorn QB Great Bobby Layne

Born Gerald Adams Vroom, he was raised in Linneus, Mo. Mr. Vroom graduated from San Jose State in 1947 as a business administration major. He would later earn a master's degree from Stanford in 1955.

During World War II, he served in the United States Navy, was enrolled in the Naval Officer Training Program in Austin, Texas, and continued his education at the University of Texas. While a student at Texas, he was a member of the 1943 football team and the 1943-44 Longhorn basketball squad.

Mr. Vroom played the position of end on the football team, but probably made his greatest contribution to Longhorn football as the student host to Pro Football and College Football Hall of Fame quarterback Bobby Layne on Layne's recruiting trip to Austin according to Mr. Vroom's son, Brad.

Mr. Vroom was predeceased by his wife, Gladys. He is survived by his daughter, Cindy, and sons, Scott (Kitty), Barry (Jinny) and Brad (Laurie) Vroom and six granchildren.

A private memorial service for the family was held.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made by mail to the San Jose State University Tower Foundation/Vroom Golf Endowment, One Washington Square, San Jose, CA 95192 or online at www.sjsu.edu/towerfoundation, or to the Sunny View Foundation 22445 Cupertino Road, Cupertino, CA, 95014, with "Jerry Vroom Memorial" on the memo line.