Cronin, Frank Harford (2007)

About Cronin, Frank Harford (2007)

1917 – 1998.  Frank Cronin earned the Middle Atlantic Hall of Fame honors for his untiring work in promoting the game and educating a generation of students in Physical Education at the University of Maryland.  He coached the University’s Golf and Boxing teams for many years.   Frank Cronin is a member of three other Halls of Fame: University of Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame; the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame; and the Maryland Boxing Hall of Fame.

Within the MAPGA ranks, he served as Treasurer in 1964 – 1967, as Vice President-at-Large in 1968, as Regional Vice President in 1969 and as the Northern Chapter President in 1969.  He received the MAPGA’s Professional of the Year honor in 1971 and the Section’s Horton Smith Trophy three times: 1966, 1967, and 1975.

Frank served as a member of the PGA’s Education Committee for three years. He coordinated three PGA Business Schools including the first one ever held outside the state of Florida, conducted in 1966 on the University of Maryland campus.

Originally from Colorado, his family moved to Bel Air Maryland in the 1930s.  At Bel Air High School, his athletic prowess led to a University of Maryland track scholarship where be became one of the University’s all-time great athletes in track and boxing.  As a boxer he won the Southern Conference Middleweight title in an undefeated season, 1938 – 1939, the only year he boxed.  He defeated a United States Golden Glove Champion along the way.  Frank was the Southern Conference indoor and outdoor quarter-mile champion five times; and the 1938 Southern Conference pole-vaulting championship.  He graduated in 1939 and also received an Army ROTC commission.

During WWII, he served as an instructor at the Fort Benning Infantry School before deploying to the Pacific Theater in 1945 where he served with the Occupation Forces in Japan until returning state side in 1946.  Frank remained active in the reserves until the early 1960s when he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Upon returning to the University in 1946 he assumed responsibility for the golf team and a faculty position in the Physical Education Department.  Overall, his golf team’s amassed 195 wins against 75 losses and 5 ties.  He stepped down as golf coach in 1971, but remained the PGA Director of Golf Operations at the University of Maryland Golf Course until his retirement in 1980.  His 1961-1965 golf teams won fifty consecutive home matches (an NCAA record) and his 1964 team tied for first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Some of the players he helped develop include Deane Beman, former PGA Tour Commissioner; Bill Calfee, Nationwide Tour President; and countless MAPGA Professionals.  Five of his player’s garnered All-America honors: Deane Beman, Vern Novak, Bill Calfee, Rick Bendall and Mike Pratt.  He also coached the boxing team from 1950-1954.

In the early 1950s, Coach Cronin launched a successful campaign to construct a university golf course. Using donations and money received from the football team’s appearances in the 1953 Sugar Bowl and 1954 and 1956 Orange Bowls, they built and then opened the course in 1958.  Although officially credited to George W. Cobb, Frank was heavily involved in the design of the course.

In his career at College Park, he instructed more than 10,000 students in golf and physical education classes, coached successful golf and boxing teams, created the Women’s Golf Association, and directed the UM junior golf program for 10 years. Furthermore, Frank worked with the Lifetime for Sports Foundation and the National Golf Foundation.

And, even though he came to golf late in his athletic career, Frank Cronin could play.  In 1964, he set the course record at the University of Maryland Golf Course, then a par 72, with an eight under par score of 64.  He also torched Prince Georges CC with a 67 that included nine 3s on his card.   (rev. 2007)