March 1, 2013
FRESNO, Calif. - After 34 seasons at Fresno State, men's golf head coach Mike Watney announced he will retire after the 2013 season, his 35th season as a Bulldog.
Coach Watney and his men's golf team will play one last time in Fresno as they host the 50th annual Fresno State Lexus Classic on March 4-5 at Belmont Country Club.
As head coach, Watney has established a level of excellence and tradition. From winning conference championships to coaching All-Americans, Watney has propelled Fresno State golf into a nationally prominent and highly competitive program.
"I feel like I've had one of the best jobs in the world and I want to thank Fresno State for letting me live my dream for so many years," Watney said. "I've worked with so many great coaches, administrators, and staff over the years. Not only were they talented, they were great people who made it an absolute joy to come to work."
Under his direction, the Bulldogs have appeared in 25 NCAA Tournaments, placing in the top-10 three times, with a fifth place finish in 1990.
As nine-time conference coach of the year and three-time regional coach of the year, Watney has led the Fresno State golf program to 12 conference championships, including six consecutive titles from 1986-1991, and most recently three Western Athletic Conference titles in 1994, 2000 and 2003.
Watney led the team to 17 Western Regional appearances in the 23 year history, having 15 in a row from 1989-2003 and 56 total tournament wins during his coaching stint. He has produced 29 All-Americans, 19 All-American Scholars and one Academic All-American John Barrington (1996).
"As our longest tenured head coach, Mike has mentored numerous outstanding student-athletes and champions both on and off the course, while displaying magnificent loyalty to Fresno State," Director of Athletics Thomas Boeh said. " We are truly appreciative of his significant contributions to both the golf program as well as our entire athletics department over the years and wish him the very best in his retirement."
In addition to Watney's record on the golf course, his contributions to the game, his student-athletes and the school have not gone unnoticed. In 2006 he was inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America's Hall of Fame and will forever be honored and recognized for his great contributions to the game of golf. Watney was honored as the recipient of The First Tee Lifetime Achievement Award in February of 2013.
Wantey has coached many outstanding players in his career including notable PGA golfers Nick Watney (his nephew), Kevin and David Sutherland, Joe Acosta, Todd Rose, Tim Norris and Dennis Trixler.
"Coming to Fresno State as a freshman, I was very excited to be playing for my uncle," said former Bulldog and current PGA golfer Nick Watney. "Now after eight years on the PGA Tour, I still use the lessons I learned from him. Uncle Mike was a great golf coach, but an even better Uncle! Congrats on a very well earned retirement."
Watney has also coached golf pros in the local area including Ed Luethke, Jonathon Echols, Ken Collins, Eric Peterson, Mike Schy, Todd Hansen, Paul Wightman, Eric Costa, Mark Sherman and Matt Bunn. Three of his former players have moved into current Division I coaching roles: Chad Spencer at Nevada, David Sutherland at Sacramento State and Tim Norris at Kansas State.
"What will I do?" inquired Watney. "I have a fantastic wife who is very adventurous and I will get to go places and do things with her that coaching prevented me from doing. We have four children and six grandchildren. They all live fairly close so I will get to spend lots of good grandfather time with them."
With more free time, Watney will continue to teach golf, play and compete more than he has been able to. He plans on following Nick Watney a lot more on tour and spending time with one of his daughters, Heidi, who has a job with the MLB Network. His other daughter, Kelly Winter, is the women's volleyball coach at Fresno Pacific University so he plans on becoming the volunteer assistant coach even though it will be volleyball instead of golf.
"We had some golf success at Fresno State, but I hope the main thing that my guys come away with is a better way to take on life after athletics," Watney said. "The success formula for athletics needs to be incorporated into their family lives as well as their jobs. Treat people kindly, do everything with integrity, and do it to the best of your ability. As in athletics, life won't always go well but a spirit of perseverance and positive expectancy will usually result in good things happening."
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