Marble Falls High School assistant golf coach Rick Blackington (left) is taking over the program after Lonnie Tackitt retires following three decades of teaching and coaching. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
For 30 years, golf coach Lonnie Tackitt used the sport as a mirror for life. He coached his Marble Falls High School athletes to get the lowest score on the course and set the highest standards elsewhere.
Tackitt, who is retiring at the end of the 2020-21 school year, touched the lives of thousands of youths over his career.
“(Golf) can be a great game because it can be so frustrating,” said the 63-year-old Meadowlakes resident. “That’s why we were always looking for improvement. (Student-athletes) have to have that resilience not to give up. It’s easy to give up. That’s what’s so nice: They work at it, and they improve. That’s what we’re always looking for.”
Athletics Director Rick Hoover had one word to decribe Tackitt’s presence on the course or in his math classes: “Stability.”
“He was always the professional and the hardest working coach there,” he continued.
Tackitt joined the Marble Falls High School staff in 1991 after seven years teaching and coaching in Lovington, New Mexico. As the Marble Falls golf coach, he guided the boys team for all 30 of his years and added the girls team in 2004 when then-Lady Mustangs coach Wayne Neely retired.
Under Tackitt’s tutelage, the golf program was on par with excellence. He coached eight boys teams, four girls teams, and 12 individuals to regional tournaments. In 2002, he guided Josh Price to a state championship. Throughout his career at Marble Falls, he helped numerous students get college scholarships.
Tackitt also had stints on the football and boys basketball coaching staffs, but once he and his wife, Tracy, began having children, it became apparent he needed to give up one of them. Since football was a fall sport and golf a spring sport, basketball was benched. Eventually, he left the gridiron to focus solely on the greens.
Price recalled Tackitt’s dedication to his athletes. During the early 2000s, the Mustangs were slated to play a regional match at Waterwood National in Huntsville, a course on which they’d never set eyes, let alone teed off.
During the Spring Break prior to the tournament, Tackitt drove his team to Huntsville so they could play the course.
“Looking back now, he had young kids,” Price said. “But he took the time out of his day to drive four hours. We played for five hours, and he drove us back in one day. It points to who he is as a person.”
Rachel Doyle-Thompson, a 2009 graduate, said Tackitt never got angry at his golfers, even if they gave him a reason.
“One time, he told me to use a certain club,” she said. “I ignored him and used something else. That didn’t work out in my favor. But instead of getting mad, he laughed.”
Brandon Gatton, a 1999 graduate and Tackitt’s No. 1 golfer that year, put everything at risk by climbing on the back of a bucking bull. The decision led to a broken arm in the middle of golf season.
“I wasn’t thinking about injuries or golf; I just decided to hop on one,” Gatton said.
He was fearful of Tackitt’s reaction, but the coach gave him a second chance to finish out district play when his arm healed.
Retirement won’t be much different for Tackitt, except you won’t find him in a math class. He’ll be on the golf course giving private lessons at Hidden Falls Country Club in Meadowlakes.
He chuckled as he talked about seeing former Marble Falls students on the course, noting many of them didn’t play when they were in high school, no matter how many times he invited them.
He’s glad they’ve picked up the sport now that they’re older.
“Golf is so challenging and so rewarding. They catch the bug to play,” Tackitt said. “It’s the kind of sport that you can play until you’re 90 years old.”