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Men's Golf History

Pepperdine Men's Golf Records Book

1997 NCAA Champions

Michael Putnam

 

Thanks to its victory at the 1997 NCAA Championships, Pepperdine will always be known on a national level for its standout men's golf program.

Closer to home, no West Coast Conference program has had more success than the Waves, who have captured 17 WCC titles between 1987 and 2010. Pepperdine has finished either first or second at the WCC Championships 21 times in the last 27 years.

Pepperdine is a regular participant in postseason play, having advanced to NCAA Regional Championships in 19 of the last 22 seasons. The Waves have made all eight of their team appearances at the NCAA Championships since 1993.

The Waves' individual accomplishments include two Byron Nelson Award winners (Jason Allred in 2002 and Michael Putnam in 2005), 14 GCAA All-American selections, 10 WCC Championships medalists, 10 GCAA All-American Scholars and a CoSIDA Academic All-American first teamer (Lars Herne in 1993).

Golf had its roots at Pepperdine's old Los Angeles campus. Although historical records are sparse, Pepperdine fielded its first-ever golf team in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Coaches in the `50s included Gordon MacEachron and Bob Morris. Wayne Wright, the University's former athletics director, served as the team's mentor from 1965-68.

When Pepperdine made its move to the Malibu campus in the early 1970s, the program was dropped. It was reinstituted a decade later in 1981-82, and Dr. Bob Gilliam, a former professor at the University, served as the Waves' head coach for three seasons before Bob Yokoi assumed the duties in 1984-85.

At this time, the University began to make a serious financial commitment toward the program, providing funding for scholarships, first-rate instruction and consistent practice opportunities at a top-flight facility.

In 1987, Pepperdine achieved its first notable success, as the Waves upset several local collegiate powers and claimed the championship of the Southern California Invitational at Torrey Pines Country Club in San Diego. The Waves' Jim Johnson won the individual title. That particular tournament victory signaled the arrival of the program.

Pepperdine won its first-ever WCC golf title that same year, and Johnson earned a spot competing as an individual at the NCAA Championships -- a first-time accomplishment for a Waves' player.

Kurt Schuette, a player at Pepperdine for two seasons in the mid-1980s, assumed the head coaching duties in the fall of 1988, marking the first time that the University had employed a full-time golf coach. Under Schuette's guidance, the program continued to make positive advances, including the 1989 WCC championship in his first season. At the 1993 NCAA West Regional in Provo, Utah, the Waves placed seventh overall, thus securing a first-ever team berth to the NCAA Championships.

Under the direction of first-year head coach Todd Andrews, Pepperdine finished fourth at the 1996 NCAA West Regional at the Stanford Golf Course, capturing its second NCAA Championships berth.

John Geiberger assumed the head coaching duties in the fall of 1996, inheriting a talent-laden team with extensive experience. Pepperdine used a late-season surge to advance to the 1997 NCAA West Regional, and a ninth-place finish there allowed the Waves to move on. After placing 30th and 24th at its first two NCAA Championships appearances, Pepperdine outperformed the nation's top teams at the Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Ill., to claim its first-ever NCAA men's golf championship.

Jason Gore and Michael Walton finished third and fifth, respectively, in the final individual standings at the 1997 NCAA Championships, and were both All-American honorable mention selections by the GCAA.

Pepperdine returned to the NCAA Championships four times in a seven-year span (2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006) and picked up the school's second and third top 10 finishes with an eighth-place result at the Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio in 2002 and a 10th-place finish at the The Cascades Golf Course in Hot Springs, Va., in 2004.

Though the Waves didn't qualify as a team in 2005, Michael Putnam went to Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md., as an individual. He tied for medalist honors, but lost in a three-hole playoff.

The Waves' seventh NCAA appearance came when they traveled to the Crosswater Course in Sunriver, Ore., for the 2006 NCAA Championships, where they tied for 22nd place. The 2011 squad earned its eighth trip to the NCAAs and finished in 25th place at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

Michael Beard, a former All-American for the Waves, rejoined the program in December 2012, replacing Geiberger as head coach.

Several Waves have gone on to success on the PGA Tour, including Allred, Gore, Putnam and Jeff Gove.

 

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