Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sports column

June 2, 2014

Column: Krak is first ex-WVU golfer going into hall of fame

MORGANTOWN — Mike Krak, one of the most outstanding golfers ever to play for West Virginia University, will be the first ever to become inducted into the institution’s sports Hall of Fame.

It seems so fitting that this veteran golf professional of 62 years’ nationwide acclaim is being honored this year when that competitive sport is being returned. Golf was dropped by WVU after the 1982 season.

Krak, who’s 88 and living in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., is delighted that golf is back at his alma mater.

“It certainly was unexpected, but I’m happy they decided to do that,” he said. “I was really surprised. But I’m very honored (to be first golf inductee) but happy they revived the program.”

Krak said there are only five players on a team competing in match play events against an opposing team. He thinks about 20 teams (100 players) competed in the NCAA tournament last season.

It’s his understanding that most schools give four or five scholarships each year for golf now.

Krak said with certainty that the university here didn’t grant any scholarships for golf when he played.

“They might have had some at a few other colleges, but we certainly didn’t have any for golf then,” he stressed.

He was a standout on teams from 1944-48. Krak turned to golf after deciding he wasn’t good enough to start on coach Lee Patton’s strong men’s basketball teams.

That’s the sport he had liked so much at Weir High School. It was in Weirton that he grew up.

Krak was born in Czechoslovakia. He graduated from WVU in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education.

He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1950-53 during the Korean War. “It was one of the greatest thrills of my life when I got my wings to become a pilot,” Krak recalled.

He’s also proud of the fact that he helped develop an estimated 40 golfers into successful golf professionals.

“Tony Morosco of Fairmont was one of those. He’s had a great career,” Krak stated.

Krak, who was team captain in 1947 and 1948, helped the Mountaineers to records of 6-2-1, 12-0 and 8-4. He was happy to be teammates with the other players.

Those included Claude Johnson of Weirton, Berky Davis of Fairmont and the Morgantown Spencer boys whose famous father Albert was the golf pro at Morgantown Country Club.

Jack Feck of Morgantown also was a teammate, Krak noted.

In 1947, when he was the No. 1 man, WVU became the first golf team in the program’s history to qualify for the NCAA tournament.

He’s also proud of WVU’s two victories over old rival Pitt in golf that same junior season.

Krak’s first job came right after graduation as assistant golf pro at Canterbury Golf Club in Cleveland, Ohio.

Then, after his three-year service in the military, Krak played in 15 major professional tournaments. He placed four times in PGA Championships.

He played a full-time tournament schedule until 1956. His father became ill and he returned to West Virginia and became the first club pro at Lakeview Resort in Morgantown.

He stayed five years from 1957-1962.

While his numerous achievements were so satisfying, Krak no longer can play golf because of health problems.

He has macular degeneration, seriously impairing his eyesight, and a severe heart problem. Krak is to learn this week whether he needs a pacemaker.

He and wife Susan have three children, Jennifer, David and Greg, and eight grandchildren.

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