Head Coach – 11th Season
June 3, 2015, is a day that will live long in the memory of the LSU Tigers.
It was on that day at Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida, when head coach Chuck Winstead and the Tigers lifted the national championship trophy for the fifth time in school history and the first time in 60 years. With a 4-1 defeat of the USC Trojans in the NCAA Championship Match, the Tigers capped a historic run at the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships and returned to the top of college golf.
The Tigers had a taste of the title a season before in 2014 while reaching the Final Four of match play for the first time. They finished the job last spring when five All-Americans took down SEC rivals Vanderbilt and Georgia in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds before taming the Trojans in the finals in one of the most comprehensive victories in NCAA Championship Match history.
The Tigers earned the No. 7 seed in match play after finishing stroke-play qualifying with a score of 17-over par in four rounds at Concession Golf Club.
Seniors Stewart Jolly and Ben Taylor, both All-Americans following LSU’s Final Four run in 2014, joined junior Zach Wright and sophomores Brandon Pierce and Eric Ricard in winning LSU’s first national championship since 1955 and a fifth for a program that also claimed titles back in 1940, 1942 and 1947.
Pierce and Wright both capped an All-American 2015 spring season by tying for 11th place on the NCAA Championship leaderboard with even-par scores of 288 to lead the Tigers back into match play for the second year in a row.
Pierce, who broke David Toms’ single-season scoring record of 71.26 from 1988-89 with a career best 71.16 as the team’s leading scorer in 2014-15, was named a Golfweek Third-Team All-American and PING Honorable Mention All-American by the Golf Coaches Association of America following his breakout sophomore season. Wright and Ricard scored PING Honorable Mention All-American accolades of their own in the wake of LSU’s national championship victory.
In fact, Pierce (71.16), Wright (72.03) and Ricard (72.11) all smashed career-low scoring averages by an average of 2.53 strokes per round to establish themselves among the elite players in college golf in the 2014-15 season. Each also picked up his first career All-SEC award with second-team selections along with Jolly, who ended his collegiate career as a two-time All-SEC performer.
The Tigers were also crowned SEC Champions for the first time in 28 years and the 16th time in their history when they scored a three-stroke victory over Vanderbilt and South Carolina at the 2015 SEC Championships returning to Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course in St. Simons Island, Georgia. A season after finishing second to Alabama in the final team standings, the Tigers took down the Tide with a score of 13-under par 827 to win their first conference title since the 1987 spring season.
While winning regular-season titles at the Golfweek Conference Challenge (Sept. 14-16), David Toms Intercollegiate (Oct. 4-5) and Talis Park Challenge (March 15-16), the Tigers equaled a team record with five tournament wins a year ago that they last achieved during the 1959-60 campaign.
2014-15 was a season 10 years in the making as Winstead – the reigning SEC Coach of the Year and Golfweek National Coach of the Year for 2015 – has been the architect of LSU’s return to the nation’s elite. The foundation Winstead has laid since his appointment in the summer of 2005 will have the Tigers competing for SEC and NCAA championships for years to come.
Winstead has not only coached the Tigers to a sweep of SEC and NCAA championships last spring, but he has led a program that has produced 13 All-American selections, 10 All-SEC performers with 16 all-conference honors, two Academic All-Americans and 14 individual tournament champions in his tenure. The Tigers have also competed in eight-straight NCAA Regionals from 2008-15 while claiming a spot in the NCAA Championships in five of the last six seasons in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Winstead is the winningest coach in the program’s history with 22 tournament championships in his 10 years as head coach. Nine Tigers have also captured 14 medalist honors since Winstead’s first season as head coach in 2005-06.
LSU’s rise to the top of college golf was first felt at the 2011 NCAA Championships when John Peterson claimed the program’s first individual championship in 70 years with his winning performance at Oklahoma State’s Karsten Creek Golf Club. That’s when the former three-time All-American and emerging PGA TOUR standout fired a 5-under par 211 for three rounds of stroke play to win the national title and join former Tiger champions Fred Haas, Jr. (1937) and Earl Stewart (1941).
Peterson had a strong start to his professional career that included a tie for fourth place in his major championship debut at the 2012 United States Open Championship held at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, California, and making the cut in his Masters debut in 2013. Peterson will compete as a card-carrying member of the PGA TOUR again in 2015-16 while earning more than $2 million since turning professional following his senior season in 2011.
Andrew Loupe, a two-time All-American and teammate of Peterson while at LSU, will also compete as a fully-exempt member in the PGA TOUR during the 2015-16 season as he retained his TOUR card thanks to his performance in the 2015 Web.com Tour Finals in October. Loupe became the second former LSU Tiger to win a Web.com Tour event title in 2015 with his victory at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, earning his spot back on the PGA TOUR for the third-straight season.
A Ruston, Louisiana, native and member of the LSU men’s golf program from 1989-91, Winstead believes the foundation of any successful program is built on attracting the best high school athletes the sport has to offer each recruiting season.
Loupe and Peterson were the stars of Winstead’s early recruiting classes and certainly proved to be the tandem sparking LSU’s return to national prominence. Peterson wrapped up his collegiate career as the 2011 NCAA Champion while winning three All-America honors and two First-Team All-SEC honors from 2007-11. Loupe was a star in his own right as a two-time All-American and two-time First-Team All-SEC performer as part of the same graduating class in 2011.
Another former student under Winstead at LSU is also off to a flying start in his professional career as Smylie Kaufman is already an emerging star in his rookie season on the PGA TOUR following his victory at the 2015 Shriners Hospital for Children Open on Oct. 25 in just his fifth career PGA start.
Kaufman, a former PING All-Southeast Region performer and member of LSU’s 2014 Final Four team while in Baton Rouge, is a two-time professional winner after also claiming his first career Web.com Tour victory at the United Leasing Championship in May 2015. Kaufman, who has now claimed more than $1.5 million in earnings as a pro, secured his PGA TOUR card for 2015-16 as the No. 6 finisher on the final Web.com Tour Money List in 2015.
Winstead’s reputation as one of the top golf teachers in the country has been reflected in LSU’s performance on the course over the past 10 seasons as the team’s scoring average has dropped dramatically since his first season as head coach in 2005-06. After averaging 295.6 shots per round as a team during his inaugural season, the Tigers lowered their scoring average each season at 296.7 in 2006-07, 293.6 in 2007-08, 293.4 in 2008-09, 290.6 in 2009-10 and 290.5 in 2010-11. LSU’s team averaged was an even more impressive the last two seasons at 287.3 in 2013-14 and 285.8 in 2014-15.
His instructional skills have been recognized by many of the leading golf publications nationally during his career, including the honor of being named a Golf Magazine Top 100 Instructor in America since 2005.
Golf Digest has also recognized Winstead’s instructional prowess as one of the nation’s top golf teachers. He has appeared on Golf Channel, most recently as a featured guest on “School of Golf” with Martin Hall, and has also contributed to various golf publications including GOLF Magazine and GolfTips.
While the Tigers have excelled on the course, LSU’s student-athletes have also achieved great success in the classroom with a total of 57 selections to the SEC Academic Honor Roll during Winstead’s tenure as head coach. In 2011, two Tigers were chosen as Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholars as standouts Austin Gutgsell and Sang Yi were recognized for their academic performance.
In support of this effort, Winstead provided the vision and oversight for a multi-million dollar renovation project to The University Club golf course and LSU’s Bilyeu Golf Practice Facility in 2010. The course is now recognized as one of the best in the country and will host an NCAA Men’s Golf Regional in 2017 after already hosting the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional in May 2013.
Winstead's credentials include an association with Jack Nicklaus' Golden Bear Golf, Inc., in North Palm Beach, Florida, in the mid-to-late 1990s where he served as part of the senior management team developing, managing and initiating the launch of Golden Bear Golf Centers worldwide.
Winstead has been linked with The University Club since 2000 where he has served as the Director of Instruction and owner of the Chuck Winstead Golf Academy. Winstead was named a Director of Instruction at English Turn Golf & Country Club in New Orleans from 1998-2000. In addition, he was a head instructor for the Bob Toski Learning Center in Sunrise, Florida, from 1993-95.
After graduating from LSU in 1991, Winstead embarked on a career as a professional golfer with a stint on the South American tour before launching his teaching career.
He and his wife, Jennifer, are the proud parents of two sons – Trey, 17, and David, 14 – and are active members of First United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge.