The U men’s golf team is under a new reign as Garrett Clegg takes over as head coach. Randall McCracken, who coached at the U for 12 years, announced his retirement in early May after his team finished 12th at the 2016 Pac-12 Championships.
Originally from Utah, Clegg played two years at Minnesota where he had the chance to compete at the 2002 NCAA Championships. In his final two years of college, he played on the golf team at the U, graduating in 2004.
As a Ute, Clegg won both the Nevada Wolfpack Invitational (69-68-68) and the UC Riverside Highlander Classic (66) in 2003, tying him for first all-time in tournament titles. He was one of only two U golfers to ever win more than a single tournament.
In the years following his graduation, Clegg played golf professionally. He finished fifth in the second stage of the PGA Tour Qualifying School, and he also competed in the 2007 Nationwide Tour, just before the start of his coaching career.
Before making his way back to Salt Lake, Clegg started as assistant coach at Washington in 2007 for four seasons. During his time at UW, his team received back-to-back Pac-10 Conference titles in 2009 and 2010, and the Huskies also managed to finish fifth at the NCAA Championships both seasons.
For the last five years, Clegg served as the head coach at Washington State, and he lead his team to six tournament titles and 15 top-five finishes. Now that Clegg is back in Salt Lake, he is thrilled to be coaching at his dream job.
“I grew up in Bountiful, so the opportunity to get to come back and coach my alma mater has been my dream,” Clegg said. “I have always wanted to coach at the U, and it finally happened. I have been a huge U fan for a long time so it is great to be back.”
As he prepares for the upcoming 2016-17 season, Clegg is excited about two players who he feels are going to make the biggest impact right away.
“Transfer Kyler Dunkle’s scoring average last year was a stroke and a half better than anybody from last year’s team at the U,” Clegg said. “I anticipate that he will be a key contributor this year along with incoming freshman Mitchell Schow, who is a very high-quality player and should really make a big impact for us.”
Even with the new guys coming in, Clegg feels the team is a long way out from competing at the Pac-12 Championships, but he still believes they can eventually get there with time, trust and the right players.
“Long-term, I think we can build a program that is extremely competitive,” Clegg said. “Short-term, we will do the best we can to get the most out of the players by teaching them, helping them improve and working like crazy to have our best finishes we can possibly get.”
Although Clegg hasn’t had the chance to really get to know his players yet, he has made quite an impact on them already, with some of his players really excited to see what he does this next season.
“He is really involved as a coach already in the offseason, keeping us all up-to-date and telling us what is going on,” said junior Gentry Hicks. “I know he has a few little teamwork-building quirks up his sleeve, so I am pretty excited to see how he changes things up.”
Along with his excitement, Hicks has hopes that Clegg will give him and the team guidance in the right direction in order to grow and get to where they need to go as a team.
“I hope that our team shows a lot of improvement under his guidance,” Hicks said. “He seems like he is ready and willing to coach some of the younger guys into playing well. I want to see our golf program grow a little bit. I think we got a lot of talent this year so hopefully his guidance helps us.”
Debuting in his first tournament as the head coach for the U, Clegg and his team will head to Pullman, Wash. to compete in an all day tournament against his former team, Washington State, on Sept. 12.