Every year for the past 10 years, I've had a great idea for a golf story - Vinnie McGuire, the legendary golf teacher at the University of Utah Golf Course. And for 10 years I never wrote it.

Whenever I'd approach Vinnie about doing a story, he'd wave his hand and say "I don't want any (bleeping) publicity" or "I don't need any more business." Even though I believed he secretly wouldn't mind a little attention, I obliged and didn't bother Vinnie about it, since I considered him a friend.Last summer, when one of Vinnie's star pupils, Doug Bybee, won the State Amateur, Vinnie said the same thing when reporters questioned him about Bybee. He didn't want the publicity, let Bybee have it all. We managed to sneak in a few graphs about how Vinnie was Bybee's "guru."

I first came to know Vinnie when I took up golf more than 20 years ago. My first shots were hit at the U. of U. Course, where Vinnie was the pro for more than 30 years after being an assistant at The Country Club. Several people from The Country Club still came to take lessons from Vinnie at the little U. course.

When I was 15, I worked for Vinnie for a summer. My job was to go out on the range (actually, the rough near the old No. 1 fairway) in an electric golf cart and pick up balls with a hand-held ball picker-upper. I'd do that three or four times and spend the rest of my day out on the putting green or sitting in the shade watching him give lessons. Even though I only earned three or four bucks a day, it was a great first job.

I remember getting a 15-minute lesson from Vinnie one day, but for some reason there was never time for more. Over the years, I've never taken a lesson, because I only wanted one from Vinnie, who many considered the best teacher in Utah. But I never did. Just like I never did that big feature story on him.

It's too late now because Vinnie passed away just before Christmas at the age of 73. There wasn't a lot of fanfare, just as he'd have wanted it.

The old U. course will never be the same without Vinnie. Neither will Utah golf.NEW COURSES: The relatively mild winter in northern Utah has allowed the area's newest golf courses to progress to the point of opening.

The back nine at Wingpointe (airport) Golf Course opened Friday, more than a month ahead of schedule, according to assistant Wayne Fisher. The front nine opened last July, and already both nines are getting plenty of business.

The city's other new course, the new 18 at Mountain Dell which was originally supposed to open last year, is making some progress. A new nine (near the reservoir) has opened, making it a 27-hole course for the time being, although a couple of long holes are being played as par-3s for awhile. According to assistant pro Mike Brimley, there will be a lot of changes in the holes during the next few months and the other nine new holes should open later this summer in time for the annual City Parks Open.

Finally, the less-publicized Westridge Golf Course in West Valley (50th South 60th West) is set to open April 27. Nine holes will open that day, with the other nine set to open about three weeks later.DALY REALLY IS LONG: Last year when John Daly came to Utah and captured the Ben Hogan Utah Classic, he impressed locals with his prodigious length off the tees. Well, in his initial year on the PGA Tour, Daly is proving his length was no illusion last year at Riverside Country Club.

Daly is driving the ball as far as anyone in PGA history this year. He's averaging a whopping 285.6 yards off the tee, which is more than eight yards ahead of his nearest competitor, Fred Couples.

Since they've kept PGA stats, the previous long driver for a season was Davis Love III, whose 1986 average was about the same as Daly's current average.

Besides his long-driving, Daly's having a pretty good year with more than $71,000 in earnings, which ranks him 51st on the money list. That puts him fourth among 1990 qualifying tournament graduates.TOURNEY CORNER: Ron Hitchcock and Ryan Job each shot 145 to share the UGA Winterchamps title two weeks ago in St. George. Gary Stewart, Larry Williams and Kurt Bosen tied for third at 148. Terry Norman Hansen won the women's portion of the tourney with a 154 total, eight shots ahead of Melanie Warren.

Upcoming: April 6 - UGA Four-Ball Championship Qualifying (Stansbury Park, Tri-City, Meadowbrook, Rose Park); Great Basin Amateur (Sunset View). April 7 - Carbon County BB (Carbon CC). STRAY SHOTS: Salt Lake City municipal golf courses started taking tee-time reservations last week and will continue through the summer. The courses are Forest Dale (483-5420), Nibley Park (483-5418), Bonneville (596-4051), Mountain Dell (582-3812), Glendale (974-2403), Rose Park (596-5030) and Wingpointe (575-2345) . . . Jay Don Blake, a winner at San Diego, ranks 7th on the PGA money list with $274,500, more than he's ever made in an entire season before. Provo resident Dan Forsman ranks 37th, Orem's Keith Clearwater is 50th, and ex-BYU star Rick Fehr is 91st . . . Ex-BYU golfer Jim Nelford ranks 21st on the Ben Hogan money list as he continues his comeback from that terrible water-skiing accident a few years ago. Ogden's Bob Betley ranks 71st in his first full year on the Senior Tour . . . Forsman ranks 5th and former Weber State golfer Greg Whisman ranks 6th on the PGA Tour in driving distance.