William A. Strausbaugh Jr., legendary teacher of the game of golf and club professional at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase for 31 years, died Saturday of a brain tumor at his Gaithersburg home. He was 76.
Mr. Strausbaugh was an active member of the Professional Golfers' Association of America and held numerous offices on the local, national and international levels through the years.
He was named vice president of the Middle Atlantic PGA in 1962 and later was section secretary and employment chairman. For 40 years, he taught in PGA education seminars.
From 1974 to 1977, he was president of the Middle Atlantic PGA, where he had held every executive office and was the only person ever to receive every national award the PGA presents to a club pro. He was inducted into the Middle Atlantic PGA Hall of Fame in 1989 and was PGA Teacher of the Year in 1992.
He also conducted professional development seminars in nearly all of the PGA's sections and was a frequent lecturer in Canada, Germany, Japan, Scandinavia, England, France, Switzerland and Italy.
"Bill Strausbaugh's career was a study in dedication to people as well as a love of the game itself," said Will Mann, PGA of America president.
"He worked diligently to improve the welfare of PGA professionals and became an inspiration to everyone with whom he came in contact," he said.
However, it was his reputation as a teacher of the game that earned him the sobriquets of "Coach" and "King of Swing," and a devoted following.
In 1991, Mr. Strausbaugh was named one of the "50 Greatest Teachers in the Game of Golf" by Golf Digest.
He relied upon his unique "pie" system -- as well as his "personal road map" and "postage stamp" methods -- this way: "Strausbaugh helps his students by breaking down the elements into five parts of a 'pie': (1) Launching pad; (2) creation of target line awareness; (3) pivot flat-footed twist of trunk; (4) plane wide to shallow; and (5) position flat left and bent wrist and tucked right elbow."
"Once the student understands the concept, we take all those things down into your personal road map where they practice and drill," he said.
"I remind our fellow professionals that of all the knowledge we accrue, we can't be successful in communicating that knowledge unless we have the ability to put that on the back of a postage stamp."
Jack Barse, a member of the golf committee at Columbia Country Club, said, "Bill always said, 'The golf swing is 98 percent setup; 2 percent the way you start the swing; and the rest is in the hands of the Lord.'"
"Some swore by him, and some swore at him," said John Stewart, former Sun golfing reporter. "He was an extremely caring man who had an incredible memory for names and faces."
Mr. Barse described him as a "gentle man who was down-to-earth and an incredible teacher" who had a "knack for teaching children as well as adults and professionals."
Born and raised in the city's Pimlico section, Mr. Strausbaugh began caddying as a youth at Bonnie View Country Club. He was a graduate of Calvert Hall College and interrupted his education at Loyola College to serve in the Marine Corps during World War II aboard the carrier Wasp in the Pacific theater of operations.
After earning his bachelor's degree from Loyola after the war, he began his professional career as an assistant at the Country Club of Maryland in 1946 and was named head professional at Fountain Head Country Club in Hagerstown in 1955.
In 1961, he became head professional at Turf Valley Country Club in Baltimore, until joining Columbia Country Club in 1968, when he succeeded Frederick Robertson "Freddie" McLeod, 1908 U.S. Open Champion. He retired in 1995.
He was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Middle Atlantic Golf Association, the second-oldest amateur golf association in the nation. He was a communicant of St. John Neumann Roman Catholic Church, Goshen and Warfield roads, Gaithersburg, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, the former Dorothy Nicholson; three sons, Brother Stephen Strausbaugh CFX of Baltimore, Timothy Strausbaugh of New Windsor and Matthew Strausbaugh of Washington; three daughters, Lucy Strausbaugh of Middle River, Joan Strausbaugh of Washington, and Theresa Strausbaugh of Mount Airy; and four grandchildren.
Memorial donations, which will be shared by Calvert Hall College and Mount St. Joseph High School, may be made to the William Strausbaugh Scholarship Fund, Mount St. Joseph High School, 4403 Frederick Ave., Baltimore 21229.
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