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. He has guided the Flames to a five conference titles, eight NCAA Regional appearances, an NCAA Regional title and a trip to the NCAA Men’s Golf National Championship in 2012.
Thomas joined the Flames' golf coaching staff during the 2001-02 season as an assistant coach 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 Athletics program to receive an at-large team bid to any NCAA Championship event.
The Flames made significant strides during the 2005-06 season, Thomas’ second at the helm of the program. Liberty claimed two tournament titles under Thomas, plus he led the Flames back to the NCAA Regionals as an at-large team at the NCAA East Regional in Orlando, Fla.
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 golfers 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 an impressive season, 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.
The Flames repeated as Big South champions in 2012, posting a conference championship record score of 20-under par 844 to win by 10 strokes over Coastal Carolina.
Liberty’s second Big South title in a row earned the Flames a much closer postseason trip, as the Flames were the No. 6 seed at the NCAA Greensboro Regional in Greensboro, N.C. The Flames continued their strong play and claimed the title on the East Course at the Grandover Resort, besting Florida by three strokes and No. 1 seed Auburn by six strokes.
Liberty’s NCAA Regional title earned the Flames a trip to the famed Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., the program’s first-ever appearance at the NCAA Men’s Golf National Championship. Thomas’ program made the most of their rookie national championship experience, finishing in tenth place, one shot shy of advancing to the match play portion of the event.
Thomas guided the Flames to a third-straight NCAA Regional appearance in 2013, earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Fayetteville Regional. The Flames were the No. 7 seed at the event hosted at The Blessings Golf Course in Fayetteville, Ark.
The Flames returned to the winner’s circle twice during the 2013-14 season, including a third Big South Men’s Golf Championship title. Liberty made its fourth-straight NCAA Regional appearance as the No. 6 seed at the NCAA Eugene Regional contested at the Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore.
Thomas helped continue Liberty’s NCAA Regional run during the 2014-15 season when Big South Freshman of the Year Isaiah Logue individually qualified for postseason play. Logue, the third golfer in program history to compete individually at an NCAA Regional, participated in the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional at the UNC Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Flames won their fourth Big South title under Thomas during the 2015-16 season, winning by 12 strokes over Campbell. Liberty's 11-under par 853 is the team's second-best total at a Big South Men's Golf Championship event and earned the Flames a trip to the NCAA Albuquerque Regional.
Liberty finished the 2016-17 season ranked No. 49 in the final Golfstat national rankings, spending each week of the season in the top-50 national rankings. The Flames spotlighted the run with a No. 22 ranking on Oct. 22.
Following a second-place finish at the 2017 Big South Men's Golf Championship, the Flames earned an at-large berth into the NCAA Regional. Liberty was the No. 8 seed at the NCAA Austin Regional, which was contested at the University of Texas Golf Club (par 71, 7,355 yards) in Austin, Texas, May 15-17.
Thomas helped Liberty capture its fifth Big South title in eight seasons when the Flames won the conference championship by a 19-stroke margin of victory over second-place Campbell.
The Flames finished the year ranked No. 42 in the final Golfstat rankings. Liberty posted six top-three team finishes in 2017-18, including a first-place finish at the Oregon's Duck Invitational and the Big South Men's Golf Championship. The Flames wrapped up their season at the NCAA Raleigh Regional in Raleigh, N.C., the team’s seventh NCAA Regional appearance in the last eight years.
The golf team has rewritten the program’s record book under Thomas’ leadership. Liberty has won 18 of the program’s 28 Division I team tournaments victories with Thomas as head coach. His squads also hold the top eight team season stroke average marks in program annuals.
Thomas has recruited the most talented golfers in program history, including three Big South Golfers of the Year, four Big South Championship medalists, four Big South Freshman of the Year, 26 Big South all-conference award winners, 10 GCAA/PING All-Region honorees and the program’s first-ever GCAA/PING All-American.
Thomas’ teams have worked just as hard in the classroom as on the golf course. Under his direction, nine Liberty golfers have earned GCAA/Cleveland Golf All-America Scholars accolades and four times Liberty has been named to the GCAA All-Academic Team list (2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014).
The Liberty graduate’s efforts to turn the Flames’ golf program into a perennial Top 40 program have not gone unnoticed. He been named Big South Coach of the Year three times (2010, 2011 and 2018) and he was a finalist for the GCAA Dave Williams Award (national coach of the year) in 2011 and 2012.
Thomas has also been named Virginia Sports Information Directors Coach of the Year three times (2011, 2013 and 2018 ) and the Virginia State Golf Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2018.
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., and Walden Lake Golf and Country Club in Plant City, Fla. He also served as the head professional at Poplar Forest Golf Club in Forest, Va., where he and his wife, Heidi, currently reside with their three daughters, Molly, Madeline and Mia.
2010 Big South Coach of the Year
2011 Big South Coach of the Year
2011 Virginia Sports Information Directors Coach of the Year
2011 Dave Williams Award finalist (presented by the Golf Coaches Association of America)
2012 Dave Williams Award finalist (presented by the Golf Coaches Association of America)
2012 Virginia State Golf Coaches Association Coach of the Year
2013 Virginia Sports Information Directors Coach of the Year
2018 Big South Coach of the Year
2018 Virginia Sports Information Directors Coach of the Year
2018 Virginia State Golf Coaches Association Coach of the Year
Conference Championships (5):
2011 Big South Conference Champions
2012 Big South Conference Champions
2014 Big South Conference Champions
2016 Big South Conference Champions
2018 Big South Conference Champions
NCAA Regional Appearances (8):
2006 NCAA East Regional
2011 NCAA Arizona Regional
2012 NCAA Greensboro Regional (Team Champions)
2013 NCAA Fayetteville Regional
2014 NCAA Eugene Regional
2016 NCAA Albequeque Regional
2017 NCAA Austin Regional
2018 NCAA Raleigh Regional
NCAA Men’s Golf National Championship Appearances (1):
2012 NCAA Men’s Golf National Championship