From new coach to new course, ASU men’s golf scores

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                </div>  Arizona State has a new men’s golf coach, and will soon have a new home course. And both acquisitions appear to be winners. When Tim Mickelson resigned as head […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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Arizona State has a new men’s golf coach, and will soon have a new home course.

And both acquisitions appear to be winners.

When Tim Mickelson resigned as head coach of the men’s program in July after a five-year tenure, ASU officials began a national search for his replacement.  They found their man in Seattle, where Matt Thurmond had built a consistent contender for national championships at the University of Washington.

Thurmond became the 14th head coach for the Sun Devil program when he was hired on July 25, but just the third in the last quarter century.  Mickelson took over from Randy Lein, who held the reins for 19 years.

That’s probably a good fit for the new guy.  Thurmond spent 16 years at UDub, the last 15 as head coach.

In those 15 years, his Huskies teams made 12 NCAA Championship appearances and posted seven top-10 finishes.  That earned Thurmond Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors twice, and he was named Golfweek’s National Coach of the Year in 2009.

Recognized as a top recruiter, he coached three No.1-ranked world amateurs over the last six years.

He is taking over a program in Tempe that has won a dozen Pac-12 titles since joining the Pac-10 Conference in 1978.  The Sun Devils won two national titles, but the last time was 20 years ago when Lein brought home the 1996 trophy.

But the program has continued to be a national contender under Mickelson, brother of PCA pro Phil Mickelson. He led the ASU program to its 52nd NCAA Championship appearance last season, which ranks fourth among all major-college programs.  Its record of seven regional titles is second only to Clemson.

Last year’s squad finished with a No. 7 national ranking from Golfstat and finished ninth at the NCAA Championships – the program’s 13th top-10 finish in the last 24 seasons.  That squad put together three straight tournament wins, which hadn’t happened in almost 20 years.

Thurmond also brings fund-raising success to the ASU program, as well as experience building facilities.  While at Washington, he helped raise funds for the Huskies’ new multi-million dollar golf center and practice facility.  He coordinated the concept, funding, and construction of the eight-acre practice facility and team center.

And that experience will serve him well as ASU will soon be moving from its on-campus home at the Karsten Golf Course, a move necessitated by sweeping plans for the Tempe campus that including re-developing the golf course land.

The program’s new home course will be at Papago Golf Course, which is located just 11 miles from campus.  It’s the third-oldest municipal course in the Valley, but underwent a $7.8 million renovation in 2007.

In 2014, the Phoenix City Council approved a 30-year agreement with ASU, which will manage the course and pay rent to the City.  In exchange, the golf team will be able to practice at Papago and host NCAA and conference tournaments on the course.

Local residents will still be able to use the course by paying greens fees that will be approved by the City Council.

The 18-hole rolling course in a desert setting was designed by William Francis “Billy” Bell, who has a national reputation and also designed Ariizona country-club courses in Wickenburg and Tucson, as well as the better-known Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego.

Although the Karsten course is considered challenging, Papago will increase the length from 7,002 yards to 7,333 yards.  And the desert layout at Papago, with its nature-made obstacles, will make it even more challenging.

When the original agreement was signed two years ago, there was no specific timetable for when ASU would take over the Papago course, but insiders say it won’t be long, and could come as early as next year.

Thurmond may soon have a very full plate that includes more than just coaching and recruiting.  Course management is about to be added to his job description.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)