PGA Tour vet Tom Gillis to coach at Notre Dame Prep

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Tom Gillis had a little gap to fill.

No longer a full-time member on the PGA Tour, and still a year-and-a-half away from Champions Tour eligibility, he’s been searching for ways to stay active in the golf community.

This week, he found one.

Gillis, of Lake Orion, was named the head boys golf coach for Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, starting this spring.

“I thought it’d be good for me. It keeps me playing,” Gillis, 48, said Wednesday. “And it keeps me competitive. As I told them, ‘I’m not done.’ I’m not 100-percent sure I’ll do it more than one year. We’ll see how it goes. I’ve never done anything like this before.”

High-school golf teams can’t start practicing, weather permitting, until next month, with the season running mostly through April and May, with the postseason scheduled for June.

Gillis inherits a solid team with six returning seniors, including Jackson Stowe, a scratch golfer who’s committed to play golf at Grand Valley State.

Most of the golfers at Notre Dame Prep, a private school, have their own coaches. Gillis sees his role more about teaching how to prepare.

“You’re always teaching, as long as we do this,” Gillis said. “It will be more mental-work stuff, about dealing with expectations and how to practice properly.

“What I can bring is the ability to get prepared and get ready — how to get the most out of practice.”

Gillis had several opportunities presented him over the last several months, including teaching offers from some private clubs.

He chose the high-school route as a way to give back to the community. It certainly wasn’t about the money — not for a guy who in 2015 cashed a $500,000-plus check for finishing runner-up to Jordan Spieth in a PGA Tour event.

Gillis, who was born in Pontiac and attended Oakland Community College, played a heavy schedule on the PGA Tour in 2003 and 2005, and from 2010-16, topping $1 million in season earnings twice, in 2010 and 2012. He’s also played 99 events on the Tour.

He had planned to have a relatively light playing schedule this year and early next year, before he can join the 50-and-older Champions Tour in July. He’s been one of the old guys on the PGA Tour most of his career; he’s looking forward to being one of the young guys on the Champions Tour, where the newcomers often make good money.

“This keeps me around the game,” said Gillis, adding he’s looking forward to everything about the prep gig except having to make a decision on final cuts.

Gillis played in the Jamaica Open last month and finished second, one shot back, to pocket $9,000. He plans this summer to play in the Michigan Open, which he’s won twice, most recently in 2008.