December 28, 2012

Where Are They Now: Hall of Fame Kicker Goran Lingmerth

By Steven Shaff, NAU Media Relations

Photo Caption: Goran Lingmerth and his wife, Joan.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Goran Lingmerth was having a good day. The Swedish-born kicker had made seven field goals, scoring all 21 points in the Lumberjacks game against Idaho. The game was in hand and the team was set to run the clock out. Then the sideline phone rang.

Sports Information Director Wylie Smith was calling to inform the coaches that they needed to score again though. There was 30 seconds left in the game and seemed to be no need to score again. Not so, Smith informed them. There was a great opportunity in the final seconds. Goran Lingmerth could set the NCAA record for single-game field goals by kicking his eighth of the game.

"I give Wylie Smith 90 percent of the credit for having the record of 8-for-8 field goals," recalled Lingmerth from his Florida home. "He called down with half a minute left and made Larry Kenterra call a timeout with three seconds left to kick the record-breaking field goal. He was sitting up in the press box. We were beating Idaho 21-0 and did not really need to kick another field goal. He made sure Larry called the timeout. So I have a special place in my heart for Wylie."

He was named Sports Illustrated National Player of the Week for his performance and still holds the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision record for single-game field goals (8) and points scored in a game (24). It was a memorable game in a career that resulted in election into the NAU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1996.

"It was the ultimate icing on the cake," said Lingmerth of his Hall of Fame induction. "It is something that lives on with you forever and signifies a great college career. It was a team effort but it brings back all the memories of the team that we had and what we accomplished."

He finished his career with school records for career field goals (36), points in a season (93), longest field goal (55 yards), single-season field goals (23) and single-game field goals (8). He was named to the 1986 Kodak First-Team All-America and Associated Press Second Team squads following his senior season. After making 36-of-47 field goals in his career, he participated in training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles and played for the Cleveland Browns in 1987.

"It was fantastic to be there sitting in the locker room with everybody," said Lingmerth of his pro career.

After turning down an invite to the Buffalo Bills camp in 1988, Lingmerth finished his school work in commercial recreation and participated in an internship at Moon Valley Country Club to complete his degree. While serving as the assistant to the general manager, Lingmerth got to know members of the Solheim Family, who owned the club and PING. It resulted in a job offer and a life in golf to this day.

"I never looked back at it because I knew the NFL was not going to last forever and thought the job with PING would be a good future for me," said Lingmerth. He was right.

Starting in 1989, he learned the company from the ground up, literally starting by learning every aspect of the golf club making before settling in a marketing position. During that time, he met in first wife, LPGA golfer Heather Farr, who died of breast cancer in 1993. He then worked as a PING rep on the LPGA Tour for four years before moving to Florida to serve as a sales rep for the company.

He has lived in Florida ever since, currently handling 160 accounts for PING from Key West to Port St. Lucie. He and his wife, Joan, have two sons, Wyatt and Zane and live in Delray Beach, Fla.

Because of his career in the golf industry, Lingmerth had the opportunity to instill the game of golf in one of his young nephews, David. They would play golf during summer trips to Sweden and hit balls at Florida Country Clubs with LPGA golfers on trips to the states.

"You could tell he had it going mentally at an early age," said Lingmerth of his 10-year old nephew. "He was mentally tough and had a beautiful swing."

David's game developed over the years. He played for the Swedish National Team and when it came time to seek out opportunities in college, Lingmerth, like Smith had done for him, placed a call.

Being a PING rep for over 20 years, Lingmerth had developed some contacts in the golf industry and was familiar with golf at the collegiate level. He helped David get a scholarship at the University of West Florida, where he was an All-American and won a tournament as a freshman. His breakout season led to a transfer to Arkansas, a runner-up NCAA finish, and, three years later, a chance at a pro career.

He played on the Nationwide Tour in 2011 and just missed his PGA TOUR card by one stroke at the Nationwide Championship. In 2012, he made progress by winning his first event and earning a PGA TOUR card with his standing on the money list.

"It is incredible," said Lingmerth, who has helped mentor his nephew along with an occasional caddying gig. "With the experience I had playing college and getting the chance to play a little pro football myself, I have been able to give him some advice and encouragement. Once you reach that level when you turn pro everybody is so good. There is the slightest margin between the good and the great player and ninety percent of that is mental. It is getting someone to believe you are this good and you belong out here. This year on Tour he finally understood he belonged out here and it showed in his game."

This "Where Are They Now" feature first appeared in The Timberline, Northern Arizona's gameday football program.