It's Happening: You Can't Take the Bobby - or the Bridgeport - Out of 1977 BHS Alum Koepka

By Julie Perine on June 25, 2017 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Just hours after his oldest son not only won the U.S. Open, but tied a record at 16-under par, it was business as usual for Bob Koepka.
 
Like he did every Monday, he reported to Palm Beach County Junior Golf Association to volunteer.
 
“I’ve been on the board with that since Brooks was 8 years old,” Bobby said. “It was his first junior league and every Monday during the summertime, there are tournaments. When Brooks started playing, there were 140-150 kids, but now there are only about 45, so we’re trying to keep it going.”
 
Since his own boys were young, Bobby has enjoyed passing on tips he first learned in his early 20s when he helped out at Champion Lake Golf Resort in Boliver, Pa.,owned by his uncle and former baseball pro Dick Groat. During his time there, he also interacted with the golfers, studied their swings and practiced their strategies.
 
But on this particular Monday - June 19 - Koepka’s phone was blowing up with text messages congratulating him on his son’s major victory and phone calls requesting interviews. Though he had raised a world-ranked, national champion golfer  – introducing him to the game when he was young, affording him top-notch education and opportunities, the 1977 BHS graduate said he “really didn’t do anything” to justify all the accolades rolling in.
 
Even the youth league organizers begged to differ. In fact, they suggested he take the day off, go home and take care of the messages which were piling up on his phone.
 
That all tickled me because I love that Bobby is so humble. In recent years when he has been in Bridgeport, myself and my husband – who grew up with and played sports with him – had various chances to visit with him. Though Brooks was becoming more visible on the international golf scene, Bobby never spouted off about his boy’s fame. In fact, we’d have to bring it up and ask about it before he would talk about it and always, he would thank us for asking.
 
Bobby has never forgotten what his Bridgeport coaches instilled in him, not only with regard to athletic skill, but also things like sportsmanship and confidence. In a 2014 interview, he went into detail about his former Little League Coach Jim “KeeWee” Kinney; how he wanted to pitch a 9-year-old Koepka who was all nerves. The nerves were so great, in fact, that he made himself sick and wanted to go home. Kinney drove him there himself, but didn't leave before telling him: “I wouldn’t be pitching you if I didn’t believe in you, so you need to believe in yourself.”
 
Koepka returned to the field and threw a two-hitter in his Little League pitching debut. That’s of the first experiences he associates with learning mental toughness, something he’s always taught his kids is important – whether they were playing golf or playing cards with their grandparents.
“A lot of kids have talent, but it’s what’s between the ears that separates the good ones from the great ones,” he said in that 2014 interview.
 
And though he has now lived in Florida longer than he did in Bridgeport, Koepka has still quite a passion for his hometown, as well as his high school and college alma maters. He said that while watching the U.S. Open on TV Sunday evening – trying to soak up the surreal reality that his son was going to win the thing – he got a little emotional when the commentator mentioned that Bobby had been an athlete at BHS and West Virginia Wesleyan.
 
And though his phone was lit up with messages from Golf Digest, Golf Week and the like, the ones he seemed most excited about were from Tim Rokisky, Mike Trout, Georgia Rice, Susan Dawkins, Lisa Shepler, Jennifer Hood, etc. etc. etc. Those are his BHS classmates who were reaching out and making Bobby “proud to be from Bridgeport,” he said.  
 
Bobby and his wife Sherry operate a painting contracting company and an insurance business. Working their own businesses enable them to have flexibility to travel, following the golf careers of both sons, Brooks and Chase.
 
Uncle Dick Groat is 87 years old. The younger brother of Koepka’s mom Mary Margaret Koepka remains his “true sports hero.” Named Major League Baseball’s most valuable player in 1960, he played shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals. He was also two-time All-American basketball player at Duke University and played one season in the NBA. He was, in fact, the first man ever inducted into halls of fame for both college basketball and college baseball. Groat was most recently color commentator for Pittsburgh Panthers men’s basketball radio broadcasts. 


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