Kelley Hester Golf Academy
Head Coach Kelley Hester
Furman University director of athletics Dr. Gary Clark announced the hiring of Kelley Hester as the school’s new women’s golf coach on June 15, 2012.
Hester took the helm of the Furman program after spending the previous five seasons as head coach at the University of Georgia. She led the Bulldogs to five consecutive NCAA Regional appearances and 10th and 15th-place finishes at the 2008 and 2009 NCAA Championships, respectively. In 2009, Hester was named LPGA National Coach of the Year.
“Kelley Hester is a proven head coach of the highest caliber,” said Clark. “Her teams have finished ranked in the top-20 in each of the last seven seasons. More importantly, her approach to the game and preparation for her team are a great fit for Furman University. Kelley is the right person at the right time to lead our women’s golf program back to national prominence.”
Hester’s Georgia squads finished in the top-20 of the final Golfweek/Sagarin rankings in each of the last five seasons, including finishing 12th nationally in 2011-12. Along with her team’s consistent success, Hester recruited, coached and developed Marta Silva Zamora, who was named consensus National Player of the Year in 2011.
“The chance to take over the reins at Furman is a tremendous opportunity for which I am grateful,” said Hester. “Not only is Furman one of the top liberal arts universities in the nation, it is steeped in women’s college golf history and tradition. Few programs can claim the success in Furman’s past. I look forward to the challenge of helping Furman return to the top of both the Southern Conference and NCAA Division I golf. ”
Hester was a four-year letterwinner and three-time All-Southeastern Conference selection for Georgia from 1993-96. She was a member of Georgia teams that placed fourth at the 1993 NCAAs and captured the 1993 and 1994 SEC championships. Individually, she recorded 21 top-20 finishes in 40 tournaments during her four-year career.
Hester graduated cum laude from Georgia with a degree in public relations, was a two-time National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) All-America Scholar, served as president of UGA’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and was selected to be the female student-athlete to the Athletic Board as a senior.
After two years on the Futures Tour (1996-97), a stint as an assistant pro at Idle Hour Club in Macon (1997-99) and a season as head coach at Mercer (1998-99), she returned to the Bulldogs as an assistant coach from 1999-01.
Hester was then chosen by UNLV as its first-ever women’s golf coach in 2001 and was charged with building a team from scratch to begin competition that fall. Her efforts paid immediate dividends as Hwanhee Lee captured medalist honors at the fourth tournament in UNLV history. Though Hester left UNLV after one season, her influence continued. The team she put together earned a bid to the 2004 NCAAs where Sunny Oh, a Hester signee, won the 2004 West Regional and finished 11th individually at the NCAAs.
Hester then ventured to her SEC roots and had a similar effect on the University of Arkansas program. In five seasons at Arkansas, Hester led the Lady Razorbacks to their best team and individual finishes in school history. Arkansas posted its first top-10 effort at the 2006 NCAA Championships, and Stacy Lewis captured individual medalist honors at the 2007 NCAA Championships.
Assistant Coach Jeff Hull
Furman head women’s golf coach Kelley Hester named Jeff Hull as assistant coach for the Paladin program in August of 2012.
Hull, a former All-American at the University of South Carolina, served as assistant coach under Hester with the University of Georgia women’s golf team during the 2011-12 season. He helped the Bulldogs to an NCAA Regional appearance and No. 9 national ranking.
“Jeff has a distinctive skill set that is rare among coaches,” said Hester. “His expertise in the technical areas of club fitting and teaching, compounded by his course management skills and tournament preparation, will make him a great addition to our staff. Jeff has established a solid reputation as a top teacher, player and PGA member throughout Georgia and the southeast.”
Hull, who was the Gamecocks’ career stroke average record holder when he completed his career in 1989, has more than two decades of experience in the game. A Class A PGA member and an accomplished professional golfer, he notched victories at the 2004 Georgia PGA Championship, the 2007 Georgia Open and the 2008 Georgia PGA Players Championships. Hull was named Georgia PGA Player of the Year in 2007, the same year he earned the Georgia PGA low stroke average award.
At South Carolina, Hull compiled a 73.68 stroke average over 82 rounds played from 1985-89. He placed 13th individually at the 1988 NCAA Championships to lead the Gamecocks to an eighth-place showing in the team field. That result still stands as the best in the program’s history. South Carolina then finished 18th at the 1989 NCAAs during Hull’s senior season.
Hull was named All-America in 1988, was tabbed first-team All-Metro Conference in 1989 and was selected as an All-American Scholar in both 1988 and 1989.
Hull served as a golf and teaching professional at facilities in Columbus, Ohio; Dove Canyon, Calif.; Lancaster, N.Y.; Greensboro, Ga.; Duluth, Ga.; Smyrna, Ga.; and Roswell, Ga. before joining the staff at the University of Georgia Golf Course in 2008 as a PGA Professional and manager of the club’s pro shop.
In addition, from 2000-01 Hull was the competition director for the U.S. Kids Golf World Championships, a nationally televised event that featured 250 golfers age 12 and under from 30 states and seven countries. From 2006-08, he worked as an account executive for Henry-Griffitts Incorporated, handling accounts from Maine to Texas for the custom fit golf club provider.
A native of Newark, Ohio, Hull earned his bachelor’s degree in retail management from South Carolina in 1989.