ANN ARBOR, Mich. — University of Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon announced Thursday the hiring of Chris Whitten as the Wolverines’ head men’s golf coach. Whitten replaces Andrew Sapp who left to become the head coach at his alma mater, North Carolina.
“We did not have to look far to find our next men’s golf coach,” said Brandon. “Chris is one of the up-and-coming golf coaches and we are excited to see him take over as head coach. For the last five years, he has helped shape our men’s program into one of the nation’s elite and we look forward to seeing that continue for many years.”
“I want to thank the University of Michigan and Dave Brandon for this opportunity,” said Whitten. “This is a dream come true for me and my family. It is important for me to express my appreciation to Andrew Sapp. I learned a great deal from him over the last five years, as well as all the head coaches and PGA professionals I have worked with. Pulling from all that knowledge, I look forward to putting my stamp on this program and continuing the challenge of building upon the momentum it has accomplished over the last few years.”
Whitten, who becomes the ninth head coach in U-M history, has served as the assistant coach for the past five years. Over the last two seasons, Whitten was a finalist for the Jan Strickland Award, given to the top assistant coach in all NCAA divisions.
Throughout Whitten’s tenure, U-M has posted eight tournament wins and five Wolverines have won eight medalist honors. Michigan has earned NCAA regional bids each of the last four seasons and won the program’s first team regional title after taking the NCAA Central Regional crown in 2011.
U-M advanced to the NCAA Championships in two of the last three years. In 2009, the Wolverines placed sixth to advance to team match play, closing with a semifinalist finish. In 2011, U-M took 10th, missing match play by just three shots.
In addition to his coaching duties, Whitten was instrumental in the creation and administration of the Friends of Michigan Golf alumni program, the development of the Wolverine Golf School, as well as the designing and fundraising for U-M’s new golf practice facility, which is scheduled to open this fall.
Before joining the Wolverine staff in May 2006, Whitten was an assistant golf professional at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. While there he focused primarily on membership instructional programs, clinics, and group lessons. He also assisted with tournament operations for more than 90 summer golf events, including the University of Toledo’s Inverness Intercollegiate Invitational during the fall.
Prior to his work at Inverness, Whitten served as the first assistant men’s golf coach at Notre Dame for two years (2003-05), helping the Fighting Irish win their first Big East Conference championship in more than seven years during the 2003-04 season.
A native of Rockford, Mich., Whitten is a graduate of Notre Dame in 2002, with a degree in English and was named a Cleveland Golf / GCAA All-America Scholar. He earned Notre Dame’s Varsity Monogram Award as well as the Knute Rockne Scholar Athlete Award in 2002. He also helped Notre Dame to two runner-up finishes at the Big East Championships in 1999 and 2002.