is in his 31st season as Clemson's Head Golf Coach. He has earned just about every honor possible
in his tenure. That includes induction into the Collegiate Golf Hall of Fame at
the age of 44, winning an NCAA Championship (2003), coaching two Ben Hogan
Award winners (D.J. Trahan and Kyle Stanley), three US Public Links Champions
(Kevin Johnson, DJ Trahan and Corbin Mills) and leading the Tigers to 21 Top 20
seasons, more than any coach in any sport in Clemson history.
In the summer
of 2009 he watched former Tiger Lucas Glover win the 2009 United States Open,
his first protégé to win a Major. Then, in August, it was announced that he was
selected for the South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame. In December of 2009, it was
announced Clemson's new golf building would be named in his honor. That
impressive structure was completed in 2011 and is one of the finest golf team
facilities in the nation.
added women's golf to its athletic landscape and the team began competition in
the fall of 2013. Penley was instrumental in the establishment of the program
and the hiring of women's coach J.T. Horton.
Penley carries the title of Director of Golf within the Clemson program
and the Lady Tigers were off to a fast start with a number-13 national ranking
entering the spring of 2014.
been a model of consistency since he became head coach in the fall of 1983. All
30 of his previous Tiger teams have been selected for the NCAA Tournament,
including 25 that have advanced to the national tournament.
posted 23 top 25 finishes, 21 top 20 finishes, 17 top 15 finishes, 12 top 10s
and eight top five finishes at the NCAA Championships during his tenure. That
includes a streak of seven straight top 10s from 1997-2003, the first Clemson
athletic program to do that since the men's tennis program had seven straight
between 1980-86. His top 25 seasons and 21
top 20 seasons are a record for any coach in any sport in Clemson history.
His 11 top
10 finishes are second to former Clemson soccer coach Dr. I.M. Ibrahim, who had
14. Over the last 17 years, Clemson has nine top 10 national finishes. One of
those top 10 finishes came in 2003 when the Tigers won the national
championship with a two-stroke victory over Oklahoma State on the Cowboys home
course. It was Clemson's first national championship in golf and the program's
first in any sport in 16 years.
Tigers also won the ACC Championship and the NCAA East Regional title in 2003,
making Clemson the first program in NCAA history to win its conference,
regional and national championship in the same year. Clemson won a
school-record six team titles for the academic year and ranked number-one in
the nation by Golfweek/Sagarin and the Golf Coach's Association for the entire
As a result
of these achievements, Penley was named the National Coach of the Year by Golfweek and the Golf Coach's
Association for 2003. He also received coach of the year honors from the ACC
and for the NCAA at the District level.
of 2004, he was inducted into the Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame, quite
an accomplishment for someone just 44 years of age at the time. The victories
continued in the spring of 2004 when he led the Tigers to the ACC Tournament
and East Regional Championship and finished with another top 20 finish at the
had three more top 16 finishes since the 2004 season with a seventh place at
Sunriver, OR in 2006, the fifth place finish in 2008 at Purdue and a 16th
place finish at The Honors Course in 2010.
led Clemson to the NCAA East Region title, seven times, including a pair of
"three-peats". No other college coach has won more than his seven
NCAA regional championships.
All-ACC golfer at Clemson has won 63 tournaments as head coach of the Tigers,
fourth in NCAA history for a coach at one school. He is third among active
coaches with that total. He has won at least one tournament in 27 of his 30
seasons as Clemson head coach. He also has 68 second-place finishes, giving him
131 first or runner-up finishes in his career at Clemson in 373 tournaments.
players have flourished under Penley's leadership. No less than 15 of his
former players participated in various PGA or Nationwide Tour events in 2013.
Four of his former players were full members of the PGA Tour in 2013 and six
played in at least one PGA Tour event.
golfer won at least one PGA event every
year between 2004-12, one of just three programs to have an alum win every one
of those years (Arizona State and ULV). Overall, six of his former Clemson golfers
have won 15 PGA events over the years.
12 players on the ACC 50-Year Anniversary team in 2002, and 11 of the 12
players were coached by Penley.
Clemson has had 17 Top 10 NCAA Tournament finishes in Penley's career. That
includes the NCAA Championship by Charles Warren in 1997, and his number-two
finish in 1998. Kyle Stanley finished second in 2007 and 2009 and won the Ben
Hogan Award in 2009. Ben Martin finished ninth in 2010.
been honored for his success in the ACC, winning the ACC Coach-of-the-Year honors
six times overall. He was the first coach in ACC history to win this award
three consecutive years (1996-97-98). He has eight ACC championships to his
credit, second on the all-time list of ACC mentors.
to rank as the best combination player-coach in Clemson history next to the
legendary Banks McFadden. In the 1930s McFadden was an All-American in football
and basketball and coached the Clemson basketball team for nearly a decade.
Penley was chosen All-ACC as a Tiger golfer and has led Clemson to eight ACC
titles as a coach. He is one of only two coaches in Clemson sports history to
do this (former women's track Wayne Coffman is the other). He has played for
and coached Clemson in the NCAA tournament.
to the success of his former players on the PGA Tour, former Penley players
have brought national distinction to the school in national amateur
tournaments. Chris Patton won the 1989 United States Amateur, while Danny Ellis
advanced to the finals in 1993. Johnson won the US Public Links championship in
1987, and Trahan won the same event in 2000. Corbin Mills won the Public Links
in 2011. Ben Martin was a finalist at
the 2009 US Amateur and played in the 2010 Masters.
years, Penley's program has produced 53 All-America selections, including at least
two in nine of the last 17 years. Kyle Stanley was a first-team selection in
2007 and 2009. Corbin Mills was a
third-team selection in 2012.
coached eight different players who have played in the Walker Cup. That includes Matt Hendrix who posted
a 2-0-1 record in the 2003 event. In 2001, senior Lucas Glover and sophomore
D.J. Trahan were both members of the 2001 United States Walker Cup team.
Jonathan Byrd was a member of the United States Walker Cup team in 1999 and
played on the Palmer Cup team in 1999 and 2000.
dominated the Palmer Cup teams of 2000 and 2001 with three players each year.
John Engler was a three-time selection to the United States Palmer Cup team.
Trahan was the captain of the United States team in 2002, leading the US to
victory at the event held in Ireland. Penley was honored with his selection as
the 2004 Palmer Cup team coach.
had a high level of success since he first became Clemson head coach. After
serving as an assistant on Clemson's 1983 team that finished fifth in the
nation, then the highest finish in school history, Penley took a young Clemson
team to a 19th place finish in his first year. That club was paced by Dillard
Pruitt, who earned All-America honors for a second time in his career before
going on to a distinguished eight-year run on the PGA Tour.
brought the Clemson program to another level in 1986-87, as he captured his
first ACC title and the program's second. Overall, Clemson won a then record
five events and finished second in three others behind a team that featured
All-Americans Chris Patton and Kevin Johnson. Clemson finished 11th at the NCAA
Tournament that season. Penley was named ACC and NCAA District
Coach-of-the-Year for the first time.
1988-89 season, Kevin Johnson and Chris Patton received All-America honors
again and led the Tigers to a third-place finish at the NCAA Tournament,
Clemson's highest ranking ever at the time. In every tournament the Tigers
entered they finished in the top five and the team had a 72.61 stroke average,
best in school history at the time. Johnson ended his career as one of
Clemson's top golfers in history. He had won the United States Public Links
(1987) and earned a spot on the Walker Cup team (1989) during his Clemson
Penley's Tigers won four tournaments including the ACC title, and finished 12th
at the NCAA tournament. For the second time ever the team was ranked number-one
going into the spring season. When Chris Patton won the 1989 U.S. Amateur the
program received considerable. He was the low amateur at the 1990 Master's.
the program would decline a bit after Patton's graduation, but three freshmen
made an impact in 1990 and continued to bring the Tigers to new levels of
consistency over the next three years. Danny Ellis, Bobby Doolittle and Nicky
Goetze kept Clemson's NCAA Tournament top 15 streak in tack, including a fourth
place finish in 1992-93. The 1993 team actually had five players earn some type
of All-America honors, a first in Clemson history. That team also won Penley's
first NCAA Regional title.
being a young team, in 1994 Clemson finished ninth in the NCAA tournament. Mark
Swygert, a senior on the Clemson team, finished third and 11-under-par in the
tournament. Swygert broke four Clemson individual records in NCAA play with
that performance. He had an overall score of 277 (-11), which beat the previous
best of Dillard Pruitt by 10 strokes. Swygert's third round is still the best
ever by a Tiger in the NCAA Tournament vs. par (65) (-7).
academic year brought more national acclaim to the Clemson program as junior
Charles Warren won the NCAA Championship at Conway Farms in Chicago. The
thrilling one-shot win in a playoff over Brad Elder was captured on ESPN.
Warren went on to earn first-team All-America honors along with senior Richard
Coughlan, who shared ACC Player of the Year honors.
season was the best on record in many respects. In addition to Clemson's
number-two NCAA finish and final ranking, the team set 11 school season
records. That team had nine first or second-place finishes, also a record for
one season. All five starting players averaged under 73.0, also a first for a
Clemson team. The squad was 29-under par for the season, 104 strokes better
than the previous school record.
continued the excellence in 1998-99 with five tournament titles to tie the
single season school mark, a number-one national ranking much of the year and a
number-eight finish at the NCAA Tournament. Only four opponents out of the 67
different teams the Tigers faced had a stroke and won-loss advantage against
Clemson. Clemson had a 77.3 percent winning mark against those 67 teams,
including a 71-37-4 record against the 29 other schools in the NCAA National
improbable that the records established by the 1997-98 team could be eclipsed.
But that was the case in 1999-00, as the Tigers established a team stroke
average record with a 71.32 mark. The team was 77-under-par for the year.
earned All-America honors, including Lucas Glover who was a first-team choice
after a record setting 71.24 stroke average for the year. Clemson won the ACC
Tournament and the East Regional in the same year for the first time ever, then
finished seventh at the NCAAs. Future
PGA Tour players Lucas Glover, D.J. Trahan and Jonathan Byrd all played on that
season marked the end of the Lucas Glover and John Engler era at Clemson. Both
were first-team All-Americans in their final seasons and led the Tigers to a
second place NCAA finish, just as they had in their freshman season.
to Penley's ability to keep the Clemson program at a high level on a consistent
basis was the 2001-02 season. Most college golf observers thought Penley's
success level would take a step backwards in 2001-02. With the loss of
first-team All-Americans Glover and Engler, the Tigers were ranked ninth in the
preseason Precept Coach's poll. But, the Tigers won the Ping Preview in the
fall and quickly returned to the top five of the polls.
to the win at the Ping Preview, Penley's Tigers won the NCAA East Regional in a
co-championship with #1 ranked Georgia Tech. The Tigers finished in the top
five in 10 of their 12 tournaments that year, including seven top three
finishes. The Tigers concluded the campaign with a number-three finish at the
NCAAs at Ohio State.
furthered Clemson's tradition in 2002 by winning the Ben Hogan Award as the top
college golfer in the nation. He had a 70.33 stroke average, second best in the
nation and eighth best in NCAA history at the time. Trahan won three
tournaments, the first Tiger to do that in one year, and had three other
second-place finishes. He then led the Tigers to the national championship in
2003 and finished his career with five tournament victories, tied for the
Clemson all-time record.
such outstanding golfers is not a surprise when you look at Penley's own career
as a player. The native of Dallas, NC started his golf career at North Gaston
Senior High. There he earned high school All-America honors for two years,
three years as all-conference, and Most Valuable Player for three years. In his
junior and senior seasons he was second in the state at the AAA level.
school, Penley came to Clemson bringing his talents with him and began to add
on to his previous honors. Penley's 1981 season was his senior year and his
finest at Clemson. He was voted All-ACC, and had a spring stroke average of
72.66, which still ranks as one of the best 10 spring figures in Clemson
history. Penley finished with a total of nine Top 10 finishes in his career.
This includes winning the Iron Duke Classic and the Southeastern Invitational
and finishing in the Top 10 in three other tournaments in 1981.
on to play in 15 mini-tour events on the FPCA after his four years at Clemson.
He was offered the assistant golf coaching position at Clemson in 1982. He accepted
it and was named the head coach after the 1983 season. He took the place of
Athletic Director Bobby Robinson, who stepped down from the coaching position
so he could put more efforts into his position as the Associate Athletic
Director. Ever since Penley took over in 1983-84, all of his squads have
finished their seasons at the NCAA Tournament.
In 1987 and
1988 Penley won the South Carolina state amateur. He tied a record in 1987 by
shooting an 11-under-par 277, a record that has since been broken by one of his
Tigers, Lucas Glover, in 1999. In 1986 and 1989, Penley was also the runner-up.
He has qualified for the U.S. Amateur many times also. During the summer of
1992 he won the Carolina Golf Association Mid-Amateur by five shots, and was
fourth in the South Carolina State Amateur. In 1990 he also won the South
married to the former Heidi Grove, and they have three children, Andrew
William, Mollie Ashton, and Kelsey Lou.
Birth: Born February 14, 1959 in
Family: Married the former Heidi Grove; The
couple has two daughters, Kelsey Lou and Mollie Ashton and a son, Andrew
Education: Earned Bachelors degree in
administrative management from Clemson University in 1983.
Experience: Member of
Clemson team from 1977-78 through 1980-81; First-team All-ACC selection in
1980-81; Iron Duke Classic Champion in 1981; Southeastern Intercollegiate
Champion in 1981; South Carolina Amateur Champion in 1987 and 1988; Carolinas
Golf Association Mid-Amateur Champion in 1992; South Carolina Mid-Amateur
Champion in 1990.
Coach Experience: Assistant
Coach at Clemson under Bobby Robinson in 1982-83; Clemson finished fifth in the
nation at the NCAA tournament.
University, 1983-84 to present.
Williams National Coach of the Year in 2003; Golfweek National Coach of the
Year in 2003; ACC Coach of the Year in 1987, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2004.
Champions in 2003; NCAA East Regional Champions in 1993, 1994, 1995, 2000,
2002, 2003, 2004; ACC Champions in 1987, 1988, 1990, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2003,
MAJOR COACHING ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- Holds NCAA record for NCAA Regional
Championships with seven. Has had a pair of NCAA Regional Championship
- Has taken Clemson to eight ACC
Championships, including 2003 and 2004.
- First coach in history of college golf
to take a Division I program to conference, NCAA Regional and NCAA
National Championship in the same year.
- Has won 63 tournaments in his 30 years
as Clemson head coach, fourth best in NCAA history for a coach at one
- Led Clemson to a top 10 finish seven
consecutive years (1997-03), tying for the longest streak of top 10s in
Clemson athletics history.
- Has been named ACC Coach of the Year six
- Named National Coach of the Year in
- Five-time NCAA District Coach of the
Year, including 2003 and 2004.
- Inducted into the College Golf Hall of
Fame in 2004 at age 44, the first active coach in Clemson history to be
inducted into a Hall of Fame and one of the youngest inductees on record.
- Named to South Carolina Golf Hall of
Fame in 2009.
- Has coached United States Public Links
Champions Kevin Johnson (1987), D.J. Trahan (2000) and Corbin Mills
(2011), US Amateur Champion Chris Patton (1989) and NCAA Champion Charles
- An accomplished golfer, he was a
first-team All-ACC selection as a senior in 1981 when he had five top 10
finishes, including a pair of victories. Played on Clemson's first NCAA
Tournament team in 1980. Two-time South Carolina Amateur Champion.
- Has taken Clemson to the NCAA Tournament
each of his 30 years as head coach, including 21 consecutive appearances
in the national finals (1984-04). Has led Clemson to 21 top 20 finishes,
the most top 20s in Clemson history in any sport by one coach.