(pictured above: Sam Puryear and Catana Starks)
Winston-Salem native Sam Puryear served as consultant for a movie about the trailblazing woman who was his golf coach at Tennessee State. The film, “From the Rough,” is based on the true story of Catana Starks, the first woman to coach a NCAA Division I men’s golf team.
The movie debuts in selected cities nationwide on Friday, April 25 and will be shown at the The Grande Theater – Four Seasons in Greensboro. The film centers around the monumental hurdles Starks faced as she built a golf program from scratch into one of championship-caliber.
Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson plays Starks. “From the Rough” also stars the late Michael Clarke Duncan, Tom Felton, Henry Simmons and LeToya Luckett.
“It’s exciting,” said Puryear, a Carver graduate. “I’m very happy that Coach Starks is having her life put on film. It’s just great to see that happen for somebody who defied the odds and touched so many lives.”
Puryear is the director of Golf Operations at Queen’s University in Charlotte. He too has shattered glass ceilings. At Michigan State, he became the first black head coach of a major Division I program. During his four-year tenure, the Spartans captured the 2008 Big Ten Conference championship. In that same year, Puryear was named Big Ten Coach of the Year. The former TSU golf team captain started his college coaching career as an assistant with the Stanford team that won the NCAA championship in 2007.
Even though the movie focuses on the ups and downs of a fledgling college golf team, Puryear believes that “From the Rough” has an undeniable big-picture message that he hopes will deeply resonate with moviegoers.
“When people see the movie, they should come away with the idea that anything is possible,” he said. “Dreams do come true if you’re willing to work hard and believe in yourself. What the movie shows is that your background really doesn’t matter when it comes to pursuing goals and making those goals come to pass. Socioeconomic status, race and gender does not define who a person is or what they can become. Those things do not define you. You define yourself.”