Wally Solien - teacher, coach, gentleman
"Wally" Solien, 85
Birth: May 16,1924
May 2, 2010 in Merit Care Hospital, Fargo N.D.
Wally began teaching in the Moorhead School system in the late 60's and concluded his teaching career in the mid 1980's During this time he became the coach of the Moorhead Spuds High School boys' golf team. It could be said that he found as much joy in this role as in any other. Wally was a thoughtful swing teacher, coach and strategist and did his best to impart this to his teams. His own golf-oriented children were given an attitude and approach to playing that would result in better scoring and more fun.
His philosophy of playing within yourself, playing away from trouble, playing in the center of the green, practicing the finesse shots that result in par saves, and limiting the damages of a bad shot by accepting the results and moving on with a smile on your face, seems to be a metaphor for the larger experience of LIFE, and the overcoming of it's inevitable obstacles, as much or more than it is a philosophy for success on the golf course. He would say to honor your opponent and don't gloat when you win. Don't dwell on your losses, learn from them and do your best to correct mistakes in mechanics or course management.
He loved his players-George Strand, Craig and Fuzzy Stein, Mark Holm, Bob Cahill, David Richardson, Mark Doyle, Rick Johnson, Matt Cook, Tom Anderson, Wayne Hudson, Mark Johnson, Brian Torgerson and all the others. It was more important to him that they succeeded in life than if they succeeded on the golf course. He was fortunate to have many who have succeeded at both.
Wally started playing in the Pine to Palm in 1947. He even followed the Championship match in 1946 the day after his wedding. He played virtually every year from 1947-1969. He missed his quarterfinal championship match in 1952 due to car trouble caused by his three year old son, Tim who had put sand in the gas tank. A Detroit Country Club member from 1971-1999 and he served on the Pine to Palm as a scorer and match play rules official.
A few of Wally's players who have played for him at Moorhead High and long time players in the Pine to Palm shared a few comments on their coach: Craig Stein said,
"Wally had an old blue station wagon to haul our golf team to meets out of town. The player with the worst score had to sit in the back with all the clubs. He called it the 'Toilet Paper Award.' "Wally would throw a roll of toilet paper to the back of his vehicle and said 'Clean up your act before the next meet.'"
George Strand shared his thoughts,"We were headed to a meet in Lisbon, N.D. and all of us were apprehensive about going to a course we had never seen. When we got out of the station wagon, Wally handed each of us a booklet with every hole and how to play them. He was very organized and had a great sense of humor."
Mark Holm, head professional at Detroit Country Club enjoyed Wally so much as his coach but also as a member of this golf course. Holm said: "I dealt with him as a member, of D.C.C and seeing how much fun his four groups had playing every Monday,Wednesday and Friday. D.C.C. was always his favorite course. He was a good coach, especially caring for some of us younger players and was easy going. He helped Craig Stein and myself to qualify for the state high school tournament in 1973. He did a great job as golf manager at Maple River Golf Course. He was a chain smoker and inside the car became very foggy. We gave a nickname to him,
Even though Wally wasn't able to attend last years Pine to Palm as a spectator, he was there in mind and spirit to hear the great news that son T.L. (Tim) was the 2009 Senior Champion with his win over Bill Blake. T.L. also was the 2007 Senior Runner-Up and brother Tom has been Flight Medalist a few years back. I'm sure Wally was very proud of these two sons.
Wally is survived by his wife of 63 years, Gwen; his children T.L. or Timothy (Deborah) of Madison, Wisc., Janie Olson of Fargo, N.D., Daniel(Kris) of Falmouth, MA, Thomas (Roberta) of Moorhead. Grandchildren, Madeline Solien, Carson Solien, Emily (Eric) Hatch, Maggie Olson, Gracie Solien, Emmett Solien, August Solien, Katie Solien and Peter Solien and sister, Beverly Jean Solien Paulson.