In the spring of 1924, a handful of Georgia students formed what was the university’s first-ever golf team. In those days, the team did not have coaches; rather, one of the players served as captain and made the decisions that guided the squad. Some of the first captains for the Bulldogs were Harris Jones, John Grant, Billy Oliver and Hugh Nunnally.
The Bulldogs’ first coach came on board in 1930 as Murray Soule took the position. He was succeeded by J.M. McFadden (1933-35), who passed the torch to R.L. Keener (1935-42). Keener led the Bulldogs to their first-ever SEC championship in 1941. Because of World War II, the Bulldogs disbanded for the next few years.
Howell Hollis was named coach in 1946 and began to lay the foundation for the program. Serving from 1946 through 1970, Hollis took 13 of his 25 teams to the NCAA Championships, including eight top-10 finishes. Hollis’ Bulldogs claimed 13 Southeastern Conference titles and he had 10 individual conference champions. One of those, George Hamer in 1946, also went on to win the national championship. During Hollis’ tenure, the Bulldogs also played primarily dual matches, posting a mark of 268-57-8.
Hamer, who was nicknamed “The Georgia Pine” because of his height, is still the only Bulldog to win the NCAA title (then known as the National Intercollegiates). He also won the Southeastern Amateur three times and the Georgia State Open and the Southern Amateur titles once apiece.
Hollis was able to attract some of the game’s best players to Athens during his tenure, including David Boyd, Jimmy Gabrielsen, Vinny Giles and Danny Yates.
Hollis stepped down following the 1970 season and he was succeeded by Dick Copas, a member of the UGA staff as an academic counselor and dorm director. Copas maintained the level of success that Hollis had begun as he guided the Bulldogs from 1971-96 to 17 NCAAs, including 10 top-10s, and seven SEC titles. Sixty-one of his proteges won All-SEC honors, while 31 were tabbed as All-Americans. Copas himself was named National Coach of the Year in 1978 and the SEC Coach of the Year seven times.
Copas coached some of the most decorated players in Georgia history, including Peter Persons, Chip Beck, Griff Moody, Matt Peterson, Paul Claxton and Franklin Langham.
Chris Haack stepped from the ranks of the American Junior Golf Association to assume the reins of the Georgia program after Copas. In just his third year on the job, Haack guided the 1999 Bulldogs to the program’s first national championship and he was named the National Coach of the Year. He then guided the 2005 Bulldogs to the national championship and again was chosen as the National Coach of the Year.To date, Haack also has guided the Bulldogs to five more SEC titles - giving Georgia a league-high 26 crowns. Under Haack, Georgia has set school marks for lowest team total in a tournament and a round as well as lowest mark by an individual. Thirty-two of his players have been tabbed as All-Americans, while 36 have been chosen All-SEC, including 1998 Player of the Year Jeremy Parrott, 2001 Player of the Year Nick Cassini, 2006 Player of the Year Chris Kirk, 2003 Freshman of the Year Kevin Kisner, 2004 Freshman of the Year Brendon Todd and 2006 Freshman of the Year Brian Harman.