PARKVILLE, Mo. – Park University director of athletics Claude English made his second major announcement involving the addition of programs, Wednesday, Jan. 25, revealing that the Pirates will bring back their men's golf team for the 2017-18 season, a program that has been dormant for more than 30 years.
"Men's golf was one of our most successful programs in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and it just makes a lot of sense to bring it back," English said. "We've built a very successful women's program over the last decade and a half, and this is a great complement to that program. Most importantly, it adds another opportunity for students to compete in a sport that has high demand."
Park's first-ever NAIA All-American came from the men's golf program, in the 1979-80 season when Brian Maloney claimed the honor, and in the 1981-82 season, the program made its only trip to the NAIA Men's Golf National Championship, in Burlington, North Carolina, at Alamance Country Club.
The 2017-18 men's golf program will join the women at one of the premier facilities in all of collegiate golf, competing both at The National Golf Club of Kansas City and The Deuce at The National Golf Club. The teams will practice at The National and The Deuce, with access to two of the best practice ranges in the Midwest, the short-game facilities at both The Deuce and The National, and all 36 holes between the two golf courses, operated by Five-Star Lifestyles, which also owns and operates Loch Lloyd Country Club, south of the river in Kansas City, Missouri.
"The National has been an excellent community partner and has really been extremely gracious to Park University Athletics," English said. "Not only do our teams have access to one of the best facilities in college golf, the golf courses have also been home to our golf scramble, which is our chief fund-raising and development event. We are extremely blessed to have a partner like The National Golf Club of Kansas City.
In 2003, the University added women's golf for the first time in its athletics history, and in 2008, the women's program made its only appearance in the NAIA National Championship, at Lake San Marcos Country Club in the San Diego, California, area, under the program's first head coach, Kelly DeFeo. Park was also coached by Mike Mueller from 2009 to 2013, followed by Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Communications Steve Wilson took on additional duties as women's golf coach in the 2013-14 season.
"It's been an honor to coach this team and these kids, and to see the program improve in size and success while also carrying on the tradition of outstanding academics," Wilson said. "I'm excited to transition and to continue to grow professionally, and I can't thank Coach English enough for the opportunities he's given me. This program will only continue to trend upward with a coach fully focused on the game of golf and with the addition of a men's program."
Wilson will step down as women's golf coach at the end of the 2016-17 season, and a national search is currently underway to hire a full-time men's and women's golf coach, who will begin to recruit immediately and fill the roster for the men's program in 2017-18. Wilson will complete the women's roster through the spring and coach the team through this season, beginning his role as Associate Athletic Director for Compliance and Communications at the end of 2016-17.
Potential students interested in competing for Park University;s men's golf program can visit the Pirates' Be Recruited section at www.parkathletics.com. Interested men's golfers can use the "women's golf" section of the recruiting questionnaire, and men's golf will be added as a section to the website later this spring.