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CCU Atheneum: Jim Garren, head men’s golf coach at Coastal Carolina University since July 2017, has “changed the culture” of the program and led the team to success.
Jim Garren, head men’s golf coach at Coastal Carolina University since July 2017, has “changed the culture” of the program and led the team to success.

Get to know Jim Garren: Building the success of CCU men’s golf from the ground up

by Nicole Pippo
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Jim Garren has experienced the highest of highs during his years as an assistant golf coach at universities across the nation, and he brings that experience to Coastal Carolina University as the head coach for men’s golf.

Garren started his career as an assistant coach at the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of New Mexico. At both schools, he helped lead the golf teams to set school records. The most successful part of his assistant coaching career was his three years at the University of Oklahoma. There, his team made it to the NCAA regional championship, set school records, and then won the NCAA Championship at the end of the 2016-17 season.

“Oklahoma went as well as it possibly could,” said Garren. “I was an assistant for nine years, and I really embraced working with head coaches that could be Hall of Fame coaches. I literally accomplished everything you can as an assistant coach.”

He decided it was time to lead his own program just as the head golf coach position at CCU opened.

Athletics Director Matt Hogue said expectations were high for Garren when he joined the CCU family. “Our expectations are to return our men’s golf program to the prominence and tradition we have enjoyed in the past,” said Hogue. “Jim’s well-suited and prepared to take us in that direction.”

When Garren started at CCU in July 2017, there were just five players on the golf team’s roster for the 2017-18 season. That was a challenge that he and the team had to overcome, because it meant he had to be resourceful about recruiting more players with the start of the school year quickly approaching.

Garren recruited two students, Morgan Deneen and Andrew Roy, from CCU’s PGA Golf Management (PGM) program. Students in the PGM program study the business aspect of professional golf, while also gaining experience golfing with other teams across the country.

Through additional recruiting efforts, the team grew to nine players, and 2017-18 ended up being the most successful season for men’s golf at CCU in five years. The team won the Sun Belt Championship and advanced to the NCAA Regionals, finishing 10th. Deneen, now a senior on the team, worked his way to the top and took home the 2018 Sun Belt Individual Championship title.

“Coach Garren gave me a chance and gave the program a future. He came to Coastal and was the cornerstone of our championship run,” said Deneen. “He embodies the winning attitude that exceptional programs have and has taken the steps to begin building a NCAA Championship-contending team.”

“We completely changed the culture of the program, which is why I think we’ve been successful,” said Garren. “We put expectations on everything we do; they’re not allowed to miss class, workouts, practice or competitions.”

Compared to last year, this year’s schedule includes more travel and increased competition against stronger teams, but the team is handling the added pressure well. This year, it set the CCU record for three Academic All-American awards in one year.

Several seniors are on the roster this season. Garren predicts some of them will try to play professional golf in minor leagues after graduation, eventually becoming players on the PGA Tour. They have an improved network with former players, which can open up job opportunities for the players after they graduate. “They have nice academic careers so they’ll have some opportunities in the work world,” said Garren.

In Garren’s first season as head coach, the golf team’s overall ranking rose by about 20 places. He earned recognition for his commitment to the team by being named 2018 Sun Belt Coach of the Year. Since he has been at CCU, the men’s golf team has improved its national ranking by more than 50 places. The team won the Furman Intercollegiate March 24, outplaying teams from Virginia Tech and Minnesota.

It took time, energy and dedication from him and his team to get them to where they are now. The team was hungry for more direction, which is what Garren credits for its improvements. “As a coach, you can’t make your team be better,” he said. “If your team isn’t willing to put into the work, you won’t be successful.”

Garren said he sets high expectations because he knows CCU’s golf team has the potential to be one of the best in the country. He said fans notice when the team doesn’t play well, but the team uses that as fuel to work harder.

“That means people care and notice us, and we want to represent this school the best we can,” he said. “The overall goal is to get better every single year. It’s going to take a while, maybe five or six years. Our goal is to get where the baseball team has been.”

Garren is from Cartersville, Ga., and is engaged to his fiance, Julie. The Grand Strand area feels like home to Garren. He says he has had plenty of opportunities to be head coach elsewhere, but CCU was the “right opportunity.”

“I love the community and since it has a big golf tourism industry, that’s one of our recruiting tools,” he said. “I feel like the community embraces our sport and people pay attention to us, which isn’t always the case at bigger universities.”

During high school, he was a two-time qualifier for the Atlanta Open and earned alternate status through qualifying for the 2005 U.S. Open. Garren attended Wallace State Junior College, where his collegiate golfing career began. He led the team to a third-place ranking in NJCAA Division I. Garren then transferred to Kennesaw State University, where he earned his degree in sports management in 2008.

“CCU is going to hold a special place in my heart because it’s my first head coaching opportunity,” said Garren.

For more information and news about CCU men’s golf team, click here.

To learn more about the PGA Professional Golf Management program at CCU, visit coastal.edu/business/pga.

CCU men’s golf Twitter: @CoastalMGolf
CCU Athletics Instagram: @GoCCUSports
CCU Athletics Facebook: @CCUChanticleers

 

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