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Jeff ThomasHead Golf Coach
College: Liberty ('95)
Start Date: Jun 2002
2010 Big South Coach of the Year
2011 Big South Coach of the Year
2011 Virginia State Golf Coaches Association Coach of the Year
2011 Dave Williams Award finalist (presented by the Golf Coaches Association of America)
2011 Big South Conference Champions
NCAA Regional Appearances:
2006 NCAA East Regional
2011 NCAA Arizona Regional
Jeff Thomas was named the third head coach in the history of the Liberty University golf program on June 14, 2004, replacing long-time head coach Frank Landrey who retired from his position in May 2004.
Since taking over the program, Thomas has transformed Liberty golf into one of the true programs on the rise in collegiate golf, culminating the program's first-ever Big South title in 2011.
Thomas joined the Flames' golf coaching staff during the 2001-02 season and quickly made an impact. The Flames made Liberty Athletics history in 2003, when Liberty was selected as an at-large team for the NCAA Regionals for the first time in school history. Golf became the first Liberty program to receive an at-large team bid to any NCAA Championship event.
As the assistant in 2004, Thomas helped guide the Flames to a then school-record team stroke average (297.94) and an individual tournament victory at the Drew Upton Golf Classic, hosted by Towson. He helped six golfers finish the season with averages below 76, marking the first time in the program's history that six individual golfers have finished with sub-76 averages.
In 2006, his second season at the helm of the program, Thomas led the Flames back to the NCAA Regionals as an at-large team. The bid still made the golf team the only program at Liberty to earn an at-large nod to an NCAA Championship.
Thomas individually helped a pair of golfers earn NCAA postseason experience in 2009 and 2010. Robert Karlsson, a two-time NCAA Regional at-large invite (2009 and 2010), was joined by Max McKay at the 2010 NCAA East Regional, where both golfer posted Top 25 finishes at the event hosted by Yale in New Haven, Conn. McKay carded a one-under par 209 to finish tied for 16th place, becoming the eighth golfer in Big South history to finish a NCAA Regional event with a sub-par score.
Thomas brought to an end a seven-year stranglehold on the Big South Conference title by Coastal Carolina in 2011. His Flames capped off their most impressive season in program history, winning the program's first-ever conference title by 31 strokes and posting the second-lowest 54-hole championship total in the event's history (eight-under par 856).
The victory earned Liberty a trip to the Omni Tucson National Resort in Tucson, Ariz., for the NCAA Arizona Regional, the program's third Regional appearance and second under Thomas. Liberty was the No. 5 seed for the three-day, 54-hole event, the program's highest Regional seeding.
After finishing top three in nine out of 12 team events, the Flames finished the 2010-11 season ranked No. 33 in the final Golfweek rankings and No. 35 in the last Golfstat rankings, the program's highest season-ending rankings.
Rewriting the Flames' record book has become commonplace for Liberty under Thomas' leadership, as his team's currently hold five of the program's Top 10 team season stroke average. The last two seasons, Liberty's golf program has posted never before season numbers, finishing the 2009-10 season with a 294.45 stroke average and a current program record 288.31 stroke average during the 2010-11 season.
At the conclusion of the fall 2011 season, the Liberty golf program had won 18Division I team tournaments and had 18 golfers finish as Division I tournament medalist. Seven of the program's 18 team titles have come during Thomas' head coaching tenure, while 11 of the 18 individual victors have secured their place in Liberty's record books while Thomas has been head coach.
Thomas has brought in some of the best young talent into the Big South Conference in recent years. Karlsson, one of the top ranked amateur golfers in the world, has won Big South Golfer of the Year Honors the past two seasons (2010 and 2011). Additionally, Thomas has the past three Big South Freshman of the Year golfers currently on his roster (Karlsson in 2009, McKay in 2010 and Chase Marinell in 2011).
Honors have not just been bestowed upon his golfers, as Thomas himself has been recognized for his coaching prowess. He has twice been named Big South Men's Golf Coach of the Year, earning the league's top coaching honor in 2010 and 2011.
After leading his team to a conference title in 2011, Thomas was named the Virginia State Golf Coaches Association Coach of the Year. He was also named a finalist for the Dave Williams Award in 2011, an honor handed out each season by the Golf Coaches Association of America to the nation's top collegiate golf coach.
During his playing career at Liberty, Thomas was a four-year member of the Flames' golf program (1992-95) and graduated from Liberty in 1995 with a bachelor's degree in business management. During his days on Liberty Mountain as a player, Thomas helped continue the growth of the program, including a pair of team tournament championships during the 1994-95 season (Davis and Elkins Tournament and the Liberty/Water's Edge Classic)
Prior to coming to Liberty, Thomas served as an instructional professional at River Hills Country Club in Tampa, Fla., Walden Lake Golf and Country Club in Plant City, Fla. and the head professional at Poplar Forest Golf Club in Forest, Va., where he and his wife, Heidi, currently reside with their three daughters, Molly (7), Madeline (5) and Mia (4).