A starter for four golf teams that finished among the top-20 at the NCAA Championships, highlighted by the 1975 Div. III national championship, and three that won Ohio Athletic Conference crowns, Steve Bamberger finally takes his rightful spot in the W Association Hall of Fame nearly 40 years after his career.
Bamberger decided to stay in his hometown and enroll at Wooster in large part to the golf team’s growing success on the national stage – three consecutive NCAA bids at the time – and he helped take it to another level.
Despite a relatively average frame of 5-11 and 170 pounds, long-time coach Bob Nye labeled Bamberger one of the “strongest hitters we’ve ever had,” which helped allow him to nail down a spot in the starting lineup as a freshman. In fact, Bamberger posted the squad’s second-lowest scoring average that season at 78.5, which included a second-team all-star performance at the OAC event.
In the first of his four NCAA appearances, the rookie carded a 76 to pace the Scots during 1973’s opening round and followed with solid rounds of 79-80-81, as he played a key part in their 14th-place finish at the then-College Division Championships.
Bamberger missed some time his sophomore year, including the OAC’s (the only time Wooster didn’t win the league during his career), but he excelled again at nationals, headlined by a final round of 71. That pushed him up the individual standings to a 23rd-place tie (78-78-81-71), second among Div. III golfers, with the 308 total being a single stroke below the cutoff for All-American honors.
Bamberger’s signature season came as a junior, coinciding with the NCAA dividing into the Div. I, II, and III format that is still used today. After helping deliver another OAC championship, he set the tone for Wooster’s crowning national achievement with a team-low 76 during the first round. He was also part of the team scoring the next two rounds via a 79 and 77, including a clutch birdie putt on the tourney’s final hole to help seal the narrow two-stroke NCAA win – still the school’s lone team national championship.
In the 1975 final individual standings at nationals, Bamberger again came achingly close to a spot on the All-America Team with his 232 being two strokes shy of the recognition, but playing an integral role on a national championship team certainly trumps that.
Bamberger’s leadership in 1976 nearly propelled the Scots to another NCAA championship. They were tied for the lead as a team with nine holes to go before settling for a very respectable fourth-place national finish. Additional highlights for the team captain that year included a school-record 68 at a Kent State tournament and a 75 during another OAC championship.
After graduating magna cum laude from Wooster with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, he moved away from his hometown and quickly obtained a master’s in computer science from Syracuse University in 1978, then ascended to the highest IT positions at both Abbott laboratories and Bausch + Lomb.
The crowning achievement in his professional career came back to golf, of course. As he changed his career path and became a vice president of operations at Bushnell, Bamberger developed and patented the Laser Rangefinder, a $300 million business segment, during the 1990s. Today’s golf enthusiasts (pro, top amateur, or weekend warrior) use the technology to calculate yardage, elevation changes, etc.
Personally, Bamberger is married to fellow Wooster alum Julie (Yee ’77), and they have three children, Tracey (28), Kevin (26), and Kara (16). He resides in Lenexa, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City, and also has a grandchild.