Nine for '19, No. 7: Under new leadership
01 Sep 2019
by AmateurGolf.com Staff

Walt Beazley, Razorbacks Athletics Communications
Walt Beazley, Razorbacks Athletics Communications

With a new college golf season approaching, we present our “Nine for ‘19” series. In the countdown to the first major weekend of college competition, we take a look at the nine best storylines for the fall. Consider this your primer for one of our favorite parts of the game.

There wasn’t considerable turnover among college coaches – on either the men’s or women’s side – over the summer. Some shifting took place and a few of the new bodies are worth noting. Below are some of the notable changes, additions and rotations in college coaching for this upcoming season.

Under Greg Robertson, Kent State spent the past six seasons climbing the rankings, lowering scoring averages, winning events and qualifying for match play two of the past three seasons. Robertson begins this season at Oklahoma State, where he played college golf in the mid-90s. He was extremely effective at a mid-major program, so imagine what might happen in a power conference like the Big 12. Give credit to previous coach Courtney Jones for securing a strong freshman class for Robertson’s maiden season that includes Isabella Fierro, a former Mexican Amateur champion, U.S. Amateur quarterfinalist and inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur participant.

Speaking of Jones, the University of Washington gained one of the most knowledgeable assistants around. Jones guided the Cowgirls to 13 tournament titles in her first stint as a head coach. She has relocated to the Pacific Northwest to coach under 36-year veteran Mary Lou Mulflur. Said Mulflur, “Courtney's skill set was very appealing and I know that we will do a lot collaboratively. I wanted someone that would enhance our student-athlete experience and I know she'll do that from day one.”

Jackie Booth might be the only woman who could top that claim. After long and successful stints at New Mexico State and the University of New Mexico, Booth came out of retirement to join longtime friend Sue Nyhus at Utah Valley University. There might not be a tougher one-two punch in women’s college golf. Since Nyhus arrived as head coach 10 years ago, Utah Valley has improved its position in the rankings every season.

The USC women won seven times last season, and assistant coach Stewart Burke was a big part of the winning formula. Burke, a Scotsman who played his college golf at Lindenwood University in St. Louis, secured his first Division I head coaching position at Tulane for this coming season.

It was a short stopover in Baton Rouge, La., for Andrew Danna, and now the former NCAA Division II Coach of the Year is back in the lead spot. Danna left Lynn University after his team won the national championship in 2018 and became an assistant at LSU. This season, Danna, one of the most motivating young coaches in the sport, will begin his tenure as the head men’s coach at Florida Gulf Coast University, a Division I program.

In the player-turned-coach category, both Dori Carter and Maddie Sheils came off the professional circuit this fall to join the Louisville and Stanford coaching staff, respectively.

A very notable former player has also joined the Marquette coaching ranks, and that's Chris Williams. The now-28-year-old played college golf at the University of Washington from 2009-13, during which time he played in the Walker Cup, the World Amateur Team Championship and Palmer Cup. Most notably, he spent 46 weeks across 2012-13 as the world’s top-ranked amateur.

As a professional golfer, Williams competed in both the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamérica after turning pro in 2013. He competed in a pair of U.S. Opens, one in 2011 after winning a sectional qualifying event, and in 2013 as the top amateur.

Georgia Southern claimed a different kind of professional. Crawford Simmons, 28, was a non-traditional senior for the Eagles last season. This season, he’ll stay on as assistant coach. Simmons was drafted out of high school by the Kansas City Royals in the 14th round of the 2009 MLB Draft. He pitched in the Royals' organization for five seasons. After his baseball career ended, Simmons returned to Georgia Southern and eventually walked on to the golf team. Head coach Carter Collins liked what he might add to the formula.

“My wheels got to turning, we had a very young team them, and we really needed some strong leadership and somebody with tremendous feeling for golf,” Collins said in May before the NCAA Championship, a tournament in which Simmons did not compete.

We already got a look at Devin Stanton, Georgia Tech’s new assistant coach, when he went the full week on U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree’s bag. Stanton is a former standout pitcher for Georgia Tech’s baseball team who has spent time as a strength and conditioning coach and a professional caddie before making his way to the golf team.

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