Evolution of a Golf Powerhouse
Oklahoma State’s college golf program is one of the most storied and successful in the history of collegiate sports. The program has produced numerous champions, All-Americans, and PGA Tour players, and has won 11 national championships, second only to the University of Houston. Notable Oklahoma State Alumni who have made it to the Professional ranks include Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Charles Howell III, Viktor Hovland, Talor Gooch, Matthew Wolff, and many more. The evolution of the program has been shaped by a number of key factors, including coaching, recruiting, and facilities.
The early years of the program were marked by the leadership of Labron Harris Sr., who was the head coach from 1947 to 1973. Harris built the foundation of the program and led the team to its first national championship in 1963. During his tenure, Harris recruited and developed some of the greatest golfers in college history, including Bob Dickson, who won the individual national championship in 1967, and Charles Coe, who won the U.S. Amateur championship twice.
After Harris retired, the program went through a period of transition and rebuilding, as a number of different coaches tried to replicate the success of the early years. However, it wasn’t until the arrival of Mike Holder as head coach in 1973 that the program began to achieve sustained success again. Holder, who played for Oklahoma State in the 1970s, brought a renewed focus on recruiting and player development, and his efforts paid off quickly. In 1976, the Cowboys won their second national championship, and they followed that up with two more in 1978 and 1980.
Holder continued to build the program throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and his teams won six more national championships during that time. One of the keys to his success was his ability to recruit and develop international players, particularly from Europe. Players like Eamonn Darcy, Peter Uihlein, and Alex Noren were key contributors to the team’s success during this period.
In addition to coaching and recruiting, the program’s success has also been shaped by its facilities. In 1994, the team moved into the Karsten Creek Golf Club, a state-of-the-art facility that was designed specifically for the golf program. The course, which was designed by Tom Fazio, has been ranked as one of the best college courses in the country, and it has hosted a number of major tournaments, including the NCAA Championships in 2003 and 2018.
Today, the Oklahoma State golf program is still one of the best in the country, with a rich tradition of success and a bright future ahead. Coach Alan Bratton, who played for Oklahoma State in the 1990s, has continued the legacy of his predecessors by recruiting and developing top talent from around the world. And with the recent renovation of the Karsten Creek clubhouse and other facilities, the program is well-positioned to continue its tradition of excellence for years to come.