NORMAN, Okla. – The Golf Coaches Association of America will induct six coaches - Bruce Heppler of Georgia Tech, Central Alabama’s Dave Jennings, Bud Marsee of Broward Community College, John Means of Colorado State, Army, Minnesota and Idaho, Jim Owen of Oglethorpe and Michigan’s Thomas Trueblood - in its 2013 Hall of Fame Class. Additionally, Guy Spears, who spent 25 years at Eaton Golf Pride as Aftermarket Sales Manager and Director of Special Programs/Collegiate Golf will be honored for his contributions to college golf. The group will be officially honored at the GCAA Hall of Fame Reception and Awards Banquet Monday, Dec. 9 in Las Vegas.
Heppler has guided the Yellow Jackets to the NCAA Championship every year since 1998, and helped author 10 top-8 finishes in the Finals, including three runner-up showings. During his tenure, Tech has won or shared nine Atlantic Coast Conference titles. Only two ACC coaches have led their teams to more ACC titles than has Heppler. The Yellow Jackets have captured or shared 39 team titles overall. He was named ACC Coach of the Year in 2012 for the seventh time, more than any coach in ACC history except one. The Yellow Jackets have had at least a pair of All-Atlantic Coast Conference honorees in 15 of the last 16 years, and landed four members of the team on the squad twice (2005, 2011). Tech has had at least two players earn All-America honors 13 of the last 15 years, and James White became the Jackets’ 19th first-team selection in 2011. Three of his players, Matt Kuchar, Bryce Molder and Troy Matteson, have been named national players of the year. Heppler has served as GCAA treasurer since 2006.
Jennings took the reins of the Central Alabama Golf program in 2002. His squads have finished in the top 10 at the NJCAA National Championships each year he has been at the helm, including winning the NJCAA team championship in 2013. A two-time recipient of the Dave Williams Award presented by Eaton Golf Pride as NJCAA Division I Coach of the Year, Jennings teams have claimed six NJCAA Regional Championships, three District V titles and two District IV championships. He has coached eight PING All-America and 16 NJCAA All-America honorees. A 2010 inductee in the NJCAA Golf Hall of Fame, Jennings has also been very active in both the GCAA and NJCAA. He served on the GCAA National Advisory Board from 2007-2012 and served as President of the NJCAA Men’s Division I Golf Coaches Association from 2008-2011. Additionally, Central Alabama co-hosted three-straight NJCAA National Championships, all while Jennings waged a winning battle with cancer.
During Marsee’s tenure at Broward Community College his teams won two national championships, placed third twice and fifth once. Broward also won three Florida Junior College Championships and was runner-up on an additional three occasions during that span. Marsee served on the national tournament committee for both the NJCAA and Florida Junior College Championships and did event pairings and scoreboards for both events for 10 years. Marsee would go on to coach the reinstated women’s golf team at Auburn, leading the Tigers to an SEC Championship and two NCAA appearances. After retiring from coaching Marsee and his wife Barbara continued to do scoreboards for many events including 12 SEC Championships, 12 NCAA Regionals, three NCAA Championships and numerous collegiate, Alabama state high school and amateur events. He was previously inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame.
Owen is in his 21st season coaching Oglethorpe’s golf team and 32nd overall after also serving as an assistant and then head coach of the Stormy Petrel basketball program. In 2009 and 2012 Oglethorpe claimed the NCAA Division III national championships. Since 2000, a span of 14 consecutive years, the Stormy Petrel men have been ranked inside the Top 10 in the nation. A total of 20 players from Oglethorpe have earned PING All-America honors and earned a total of 10 conference player of the year honors. They have also finished in the Top 10 at the NCAA Championships 11 years during that span. Owen has coached 52 all-conference performers including six in 2013, when the entire six-man travel squad was named All-SAA. Last season, Oglethorpe won their 11th conference championship in the past 16 years, including five in a row from 2000-04. He was named conference coach of the year in 13 of the last 16 seasons. Owen was honored as the South Region Coach of the Year last year for the third time in his career and the second consecutive year, and was honored with the Dave Williams Award presented by Eaton Golf Pride as NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year award in 2012. Owen currently serves on the GCAA All-America Scholar Committee and previously served on the All-America Committee.
Currently at Idaho, Means’ coaching career began at the U.S. Military Academy where his teams won 11 conference titles in 11 years. He further proved himself at the University of Minnesota, where, in just three seasons, he led the Golden Gophers to the NCAA Championship Tournament. That started a run of eight successive NCAA appearances by the Golden Gophers and eight successive seasons ranked in the top 20. The 1999 team was ranked No. 1 in the nation and was host to the NCAA Championship. During that time, James McLean, won the 1998 NCAA Championship, and added his name to 11 other All-American’s who played under Means’ tutelage. Means left college golf in 2002 to start his own golf teaching center. He doubled as the coach of the Wisconsin-Eau Claire women’s team during that time and led the Blugolds to five NCAA tournaments, and had six players honored as All-Americans. This included the NCAA Freshman of the Year and also the NCAA Division III champion. This past summer, Means was named Coach of the Century by the WIAC Conference and six of his players were named to the All-Century team. Means previously served as GCAA president and on several GCAA and NCAA committees.
Trueblood coached Michigan from 1901-35, although he continued to teach chipping and putting as coach emeritus after his retirement. Given the title “Father of Golf in the Western Conference” by Big Ten Coaches in 1936, Trueblood led Michigan to become the first program west of the Allegheny Mountains to win an NCAA Championship. The Wolverines won back-to-back national titles in 1934-35 and five conference championships. Two Wolverines - Johnny Fischer and Chuck Kocsis - won NCAA Championships under Trueblood’s tutelage. The first golf coach in the Big Ten, Trueblood compiled a 71-9-2 record in conference dual matches. His teams posted undefeated records in 1922-23, ‘25, ‘28-’29 and ‘33-’34. Michigan compiled a 20-match winning streak from 1927-30. Inducted into the Michigan Hall of Honor in 1981, Trueblood is perhaps better known as his time as a professor of Elocution and Oratory and debate coach at the university. He founded Michigan’s Department of Elocution and Oratory, the first such department at major college or university in the United States. He was affiliated with the university from 1884-1951 as either a professor or golf coach.
In his 25 years at Eaton Golf Pride, Spears was influential in the company’s involvement in college golf. He championed the concept of Eaton Golf Pride developing promotional activities and relationships with coaches and collegiate golf programs. Spears was also instrumental in the company’s sponsorship of the Dave Williams Award, presented to national coaches of the year for all levels of college golf. Additionally, he successfully lobbied for Eaton Golf Pride to become a sponsor of the Palmer Cup. Spears has represented the company at many GCAA and collegiate events over the years. Prior to his career with Eaton Corporation and Golf Pride Grips, Spears served as Director of Administrative Services and Assistant to Roy Kramer, then athletic Director at Vanderbilt and subsequently SEC commissioner.