ATHENS, Ohio -- Men's golf head coach Bob Cooley will retire at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season, Ohio Athletics announced on Wednesday (Dec. 6).
"I will certainly miss coaching, getting to know student-athletes and seeing them mature and progress during their college careers," said Cooley. "I have enjoyed every facet of my 30 years of coaching a Division I golf program at Ohio."
Cooley has served as the program's head coach since 1988. He was promoted to Director of Golf in Sept. 2002, assuming administrative and coaching duties for both the men's and women's teams at Ohio.
"Bob has been legendary in representing Ohio men's golf over the years," said director of athletics Jim Schaus. "His passion for his alma mater and caring for student-athletes has been apparent to all. I appreciate his loyalty to our program and all that he has accomplished. I look forward to celebrating his final season and wishing him well in his retirement."
Cooley has guided his alma mater to nine top-five finishes at the Mid-American Conference Championships. The Bobcats have finished in the top three on four occasions -- including second-place finishes in 2002 and '04 and third-place finishes in 2012 and '17. Cooley was named MAC Coach of the Year following the 2001-02 campaign. The 12-best three-round team totals in program history have been achieved under his watch, and he has coached six golfers who have accounted for seven of the top-10 best season averages in program history.
"He was the kind of coach that any parent would want their son to play for," said Ohio's greatest golfer of all time, PGA champion and Ryder Cup player and captain Dow Finsterwald. "Win or lose, they came to understand that winning without personal integrity is not a victory."
Cooley recruited mentored two of the best golfers in Ohio's history in Erik Herberth and Peyton White. White solidified his place in Bobcat history as a senior in 2016-17. He departed Athens as the program's single-season scoring average record holder after averaging a 71.82 over 12 events and 34 rounds, breaking the previous record of 72.12 set by his high school coach Herberth, in 2001-02. He also became the first Bobcat to earn First Team All-MAC distinction since Herberth garnered honors in 2002. He was a Second Team All-MAC selection in both 2015 and '16. White totaled 16 career top-10 finishes over the last four years -- including six top-eight finishes and a pair of tournament victories in 2016-17. He earned medalist honors at both the 2017 Mission Inn Spring Spectacular (March 18-19 in Howey-In-The Hills Fla.) and the 2017 Rutherford Intercollegiate (April 15-16 in University Park, Pa.). He shot a 215 (72-70-73; -1) to win the Mission Inn Spring Spectacular, then fired a 209 (69-68-72; -4) to capture the Rutherford Intercollegiate. White represented Ohio in the 2017 NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championships West Lafayette Regional in May, qualifying as one of 45 individuals selected to compete in the six NCAA Regionals. He became the second Bobcat to qualify for NCAA Regional play as an at-large selection and first since 2002, when Herberth earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Central Regional in Little Rock, Ark. White finished in a tie for 15th place with a total score of 221 (+5) at the 2017 NCAA Championships West Lafayette Regional. He was named an NCAA Division I Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar and also garnered both Academic All-MAC honors and MAC Distinguished Scholar Athlete recognition for the third year in a row.
In addition to White and Herberth, the following individuals have earned All-MAC honors under Cooley – Paul Grauer (Second Team, 2012), Chad Warmbein (Second Team, 2009), Mark Cimarolli (Second Team, 2006) and Ryan Siekmann (Second Team, 2005).
Cooley has raised more than $350,000 through his creation of the Bobcat Open, which serves as a fundraiser for the Ohio golf teams. His teams have always been near the top of graduation rates and academic proficiency in Ohio athletics.
Before assuming head coaching duties with the Ohio men, Cooley assisted former head coach Kermit Blosser, many times traveling with the team. While playing for the Bobcats, he was a member of two MAC championship teams.
"Well done. You have had a very distinguished career over the years and you should be very proud. I applaud you for that," said Slugger White, one of Cooley's former teammates at Ohio and current Vice President of Rules and Competition for the PGA Tour
Along with being familiar with Bobcat golf, Cooley is no stranger to the Athens area. He graduated from Athens High School in 1966 and enrolled at Ohio University to pursue a bachelor's degree in business administration.
After graduating in 1971, Cooley served as an assistant golf professional at Village Country Club in Uniontown, Ohio. His next endeavor took him to the Canadian professional tour in 1973, where he competed in nine tournaments. In 1977, Cooley was reinstated to the amateur ranks by the United States Golf Association. He played in the 1978 and 1980 U.S. Amateur Championships in Plainfield, N.J., and Pinehurst, N.C., respectively.
Cooley is married to former Nannette Borkowski of Westlake, Ohio, and the couple has a daughter, Brynn.
"I look forward to the opportunity to thank all of the players, their families, coaches, alumni, community members, donors and administrators who have made my time here at Ohio extremely special," said Cooley. "I have been and always will be a Bobcat for life."
A national search for Cooley's successor will begin in the spring.