ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)–If there is anyone who was ‘Mr. Golf’ in Rockford it has been Lloyd McWilliams. Sadly, he passed away over the weekend after battling an illness. McWilliams knew the game, he could play the game, and boy could he teach the game.
McWilliams was most comfortable when he was instructing young golfers the nuances of the game as he was doing one day in March at the Indoor Sports Center when I came across him. McWilliams love for golf began when he started playing at the age of six.
He developed into one of the best golfers Rockford has ever seen. He won the city championship five times and the county championship four times. He won 22 local tournaments in total, and that number would have been much higher, but he stepped away from the local golf scene in the mid ’90s to take a shot at the Senior Tour as a professional. That didn’t pan out, so he became a certified instructor working literally with thousands of youngsters through the Rockford Park District youth programs and through private lessons.
McWilliams made learning golf fun through games.
One of his pupils once said, “One time he like set up these tins and you had to try to chip them in.”
Another young girl said, “He gets it so I can understand it more and not like confusing.”
“Golf is the greatest game in the world I tell my kids,” said McWilliams during a story WTVO did with him in 2018.
In 2017 while speaking at the 25th anniversary celebration at the Aldeen Golf Club, McWilliams said this about teaching youngsters.
“Kids see through insincerity. They do not care how much you know until they know much you care.”
“The greatest feeling that I have is that these juniors don’t even know that I played golf before I started teaching. To them, I’m coach Lloyd,” said McWilliams pausing while getting choked up.
Many of McWilliams pupils grew up to become championship golfers and coaches themselves, but McWilliams wanted his students to become more than great golfers.
In an interview with me this past March McWilliams said, “We’re trying to also besides instill the swing in the young people, we’re trying to instill the positive thinking, and you’re not always going to win, so when you don’t win make sure that you make yourself proud. You make the Park District proud.”
McWilliams was recognized many times statewide and nationally by the PGA and by other organizations for his instruction.
In 2018 he told one of our reporters at that time Christie Nicks how he wanted to be remembered.
“I want to be remembered not as a really great golfer from Rockford. I want to be remembered as a person who developed a lot of great kid golfers from Rockford.”
McWilliams was 76 years old.