TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As Kris Hannah chased his professional golf dreams two decades ago, the former Leon High and Florida State golfer often found himself sitting in Ernie Lanford’s office at Seminole Legacy Golf Club.
While their discussions focused on golf, Lanford was also a constant source of encouragement and support for Hannah.
Those life lessons still apply today.
“He was always there for me,” Hannah, 44, said. “If he knew you were trying to do something positive with your life, he’d give you the shirt off his back. Advice, resources. Whatever you needed.
“He knew my whole family and was definitely a staple in my life all these years.”
Lanford — the former director of golf and men’s coach at FSU and Dedman College of Hospitality faculty member — died Sunday in Las Vegas. Lanford, who had been under hospice care and in poor health in recent years, was 85.
“He was a lovely person who lived for Florida State,” said son Michael Lanford, 44, who lives in Las Vegas and moved his parents from Tallahassee two years ago.
Lanford’s career filled with athletic and academic successes
Lanford, a 1960 graduate of FSU and Shellman, Georgia, native (northwest of Albany), initially made his mark with the Seminoles in baseball. Lanford, the winning pitcher of his high school state title team, played three seasons (1958-60) at shortstop and was an assistant coach (1966-68) prior to beginning his career in golf.
Lanford, who also earned a master’s degree in physical education from Michigan State and a Doctorate of Education in kinesiology from Brigham Young, returned to FSU in 1991 as its director of golf and men’s head golf coach.
During his nine-year tenure, he guided the Seminoles to five NCAA appearances.
“For me, Coach’s legacy goes well beyond golf,” said FSU men’s golf coach Trey Jones, whose eighth-ranked team won won the two-day Seminole Intercollegiate by 38 shots Tuesday.
“When I think of Coach, I think of how much he loved Florida State and how much he gave to Florida State over the years as a whole. Coaching was a very small part of what he did. I often leaned on him and he was always very gracious with his time. Coach just wanted the best for every (FSU) sport. And if you asked anyone in his program (Dedman), everyone thought the world of Coach.”
Former FSU baseball coach Mike Martin recalls sharing many rounds of golf with Lanford, a lifetime member of the PGA.
“We called him ‘EZ Ernie,’ ”…
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