A lot has changed for the men's and women's golf programs at Washington State since Walt Williams took control. In his 11th year at the helm of the Cougar golf teams, Williams has Washington State on the fast track to national recognition.
The 2002 Pacific-10 Conference Men's Golf Coach of the Year, Williams set out to do something no other coach in Cougar history had done - get WSU's golf programs to the NCAA Regional and National championships.
Two seasons into his reign, Williams made his mark by taking the women to the first NCAA West Regional in school history. Just two more seasons later, the men's team accomplished the same feat. From 2002-07, the women participated in the regional tournament a WSU record six consecutive seasons. Williams then steered the WSU women to the school's first NCAA Championships appearance in 2003.
"I am extremely proud that we've gotten it turned around a little quicker than I had anticipated," Williams said. "I'm most proud of the fact that we've continued to build on those successes. However, we're not satisfied yet. We want to continue onward and upward until both men and women are nationally recognized programs."
As a team, both the men's and women's programs have begun the ascent up the rankings, with the men ranking as high as No. 17 nationally in 2002, and the women posting a top 25 ranking in 2005. The women have won 13 tournaments as a team and 20 as individuals, while the men have recorded 11 tournament wins as a team and 11 as individuals.
Williams' collection of team accolades has been impressive, but the individual accomplishments he has directed have been just as staggering. Ryan Witz became the first WSU men's golfer in school history to be selected to the regional tournament as an individual competitor in 2006, and Tasha Browner became WSU's third individual competitor to compete in the event individually in 2001.
In his first season, Williams helped Jeremy Champoux become only the fourth men's golfer in school history earn a place on the All-Pac-10 team. A year later he coached Jennifer Dodd to the first All-Pac-10 honor for a women's golfer in school history. Williams has now witnessed 13 women's selections and eight men's selections to the All-Pac-10 team in his 10 seasons.
Under Williams' guidance, Kim Welch earned two Golfweek Player of the Week honors, three GolfWorld Player of the Week honors, the first two selections in school history to the National Golf Coaches Association All-America team (a first team selection in 2004), four All-Pac-10 selections and ranked No. 13 in the final Golfstat Cup standings in 2004. Welch and Jay-Lee Longbottom were the ninth-ranked freshman class by Golfstat in 2002.
Williams also assisted Anastasia Kostina to two NGCA All-America honors, a Golfweek Player of the Week honor and three All-Pac-10 honors, and Dustin White to three All-Pac-10 honors and a GolfWorld Player of the week honor. Jon Reehorn, a two-time selection, Ryan Camp, Ryan Witz, Tasha Browner, Maria Kostina and Amy Eneroth, a three-time selection, have also earned All-Pac-10 accolades under Williams' tutelage. Reehorn (2002) and Welch (2003) were also named to their respective all-region teams.
The Cougar record books are filled with accomplishments brought on by Williams' guidance. On the women's side, the 12 lowest single-round individual scores, the lowest three-round individual score, the seven lowest individual scores at the Pac-10 Championships, the four-best three-round individual scores at the Pac-10 Championships, the lowest single-round team score, the lowest three-round team score, the best three-round team score at the Pac-10 Championships, the four-best single-round team scores at the Pac-10 Championships and the 10-best single-season individual scoring averages in school history have all come to fruition under Williams.
On the men's side, the eight lowest single-round individual scores, the two lowest three-round individual scores, the lowest single-round individual score at the Pac-10 Championships, the lowest four-round score at the Pac-10 Championships, the lowest single-round team score, the lowest three-round team score, the best single-round team score at the Pac-10 Championships, the best four-round team score at the Pac-10 Championships, three of the 10-best individual finishes at the Pac-10 Championships and the 10-best single-season scoring averages in school have also occurred under Williams' watch.
Just as the Cougars have set a standard on the course, Williams' teams have achieved on the academic front as well. The women's team has posted the highest GPA amongst all athletic teams at WSU four times - in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006, and the men recorded a gpa above 3.0 in 2004.
Williams has produced 41 selections on the women's side and 17 selections on the men's side to the All-Pac-10 Academic Team. The women have also seen 17 NGCA All-Scholar recipients and the men boast Roger Flynn as a CoSIDA Academic All-American.
"A lot of our kids have a strong academic background and it is a very high priority for me to recruit student-athletes that will excel in the classroom," Williams said. "In golf, we miss a lot of school, so these kids have to be very sharp to stay on top of their work. We are improving Washington State competitively on the golf course and we also want to continue to improve in the classroom."
Williams, a native of Snyder, Texas, was a 1982 all-conference golfer at McMurry in Abilene. The McMurry men's team won the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles in 1981 and 1982. Williams then received his bachelor's of science degree in agriculture from Sam Houston State.
Prior to taking over the controls as head coach at WSU, Williams served as head men's and women's golf coach at Sam Houston State from 1994-98. In his final season with the Bearkats, the men's team was ranked 42nd in the nation and captured two tournament victories. Williams guided two SHSU golfers to the NCAA Regionals and eight Bearkats were selected to the All-Southland Conference team during his tenure. He was selected Southland Conference Coach of the Year for the 1996-97 season. He also began the school's women's program in his final season with five freshmen, winning three tournaments in their inaugural season.
A knowledgeable golf instructor, Williams also has experience as a teaching professional. From 1982 to 1990, he served as a golf professional at four different golf facilities in his native Texas, including head golf professional and general manager at the Oak Ridge Country Club.
Williams is married to his lovely and patient wife Carol who have nine beautiful children together: Laurel, Chili, Dillon, Gil, Faith, Keilah, Becca, Grace and Kardian.
Official Website of Washington State University Athletics | Bohler Athletic Complex | PO Box 641602 Pullman, WA 99164-1602 | 1.800.GO.COUGS