+ College Golf

Wofford names Van Williams new men’s golf coach

Wofford has named Van Williams as its new men’s golf coach. The Wilmington native has a well traveled background as an assistant coach with stops at some of the top college programs in the country.

The new Terrier coach comes to Spartanburg after serving as the Associate Head Coach at North Carolina State for the last three years.

Prior to his time at NC State Williams was an assistant at Arizona State and Oregon. While at Oregon he helped coach the Ducks to the 2016 NCAA national championship.

Williams found out about the job opening at the college in Spartanburg from outgoing Wofford coach Alex Hamilton.

Van Williams comes to Wofford after serving as NC State’s Associate Head Coach for the last three years.

“Alex invited me down to visit the campus and see Wofford for the first time,” said Williams. “I was taken back by how awesome the campus and facilities are and how it could be a good fit for me and my family,” he said.

Williams did not get into college golf coaching in what is considered the usual route. He was a college basketball player, and golfer, but as an athlete found more success on the hardwood helping Shaw University to the NCAA Division II final four.

“I was a better basketball player than golfer in college. The golfer in our family is my wife Dani, she played at UNC Greensboro and is the only golfer I don’t mind losing too,” he chuckled.

After college Williams was an assistant basketball coach at Cape Fear Community college before starting the basketball program at Wake Tech Community College In 2011. 

When Williams was the head basketball coach at the JUCO in Raleigh the school’s golf coach left his job and the athletic director asked him to help with the golf team.

“We had a golfer qualify for the national junior college tournament and I volunteered to take him to the event. Things went well and I was asked to add golf coach to my duties. I enjoyed my experience and my career started to turn more to golf,” he recalled.

Williams guided Wake Tech to its first appearance in a  national junior college championship.

A few years earlier, while Williams was in high school, a chance meeting with PGA Tour golfer Casey Martin at a 1998 Buy.com event in Raleigh developed into a relationship over the years that eventually would help his coaching career..

Williams caddied for Martin on Tour from 2001 to 2004. (More about their meeting and Martin’s legal battle with the PGA Tour below)

“I caddied for him for a few years before he left professional golf. After I got into coaching I kept up with him and when he had an opening on his staff at Oregon he gave me the chance to join him,” he said.

During his time as an assitant at Oregon Williams helped the Ducks win the 2014 NCAA national championship.

While at Oregon, Williams suffered a near fatal heart attack while jogging. His wife found him not breathing on the trail. A passing by nurse administered CPR until Paramedics arrived and helped save his life.

Williams was without a pulse for 11 minutes before his heart started again. He awoke from a comma the following day to learn fortunately nothing was wrong with his heart.

Williams told a local Oregon newspaper, “I really believe it was a miracle, just thankful that God allowed that miracle to take place,” he said at the time.

After working on the other side of the country at Oregon for a national championship program and later at Arizona State, Williams had the opportunity to return home as associate head coach at NC State.

“I probably would not have left Arizona St. for any other program, but I grew up a State fan and it was a chance to get back home,” he said.

When the Wofford opportunity opened Williams believed it would be another step in his career.

“Coaches have to move around and make the right moves at the right times, I was fortunate to make these moves for advancement and now coming to Wofford is a great opportunity,” he said.

Williams has only met with the team over Zoom and has been impressed with the players as he plans for the spring season.

“I will have the opportunity to assess and see where they are at soon. We are going to do what we can do to build a tough, competitive culture and work hard and be excited to compete,” said the new Terrier coach.

Williams and his wife have four children and are in the process of planning what will be best for the family’s move to Spartanburg.

Williams was a two-sport athlete in college. As a basketball player he led his Shaw College team to the NCAA Division II Final Four.

The new Terrier coach will be with the team soon as they begin preparations for a return to play when the Terrier’s spring season starts in Mobile at the Sports Authority tournament on February 15th. 

Casey Martin battled the PGA Tour for the right to use a golf cart to play in Tour events because of a disability he had due to a birth defect. The US Supreme Court ruled in his favor.

If Casey Martin’s name rings a bell for a reason other than playing or coaching golf it might be because of a decision made by the US Supreme Court.

The new Wofford golf coach Van Williams was a first hand witness to PGA Tour history when he was a caddy for Martin.

The two met while Williams was finishing high school and watching the pro am round at the 1998 Buy.com tournament in Raleigh.

Not many fans were following Martin and the two had a chance to talk. Williams found out Martin was a big hoops fan.

“I took Casey around to see Reynolds Coliseum, Cameron Indoor and the Dean Dome. He had never been here before and wanted to see the places he had heard about,” recalled Williams.

Williams (left) caddied for Martin on Tour before getting into coaching and eventually joining Martin’s coaching staff at Oregon .

The accidental meeting led to a friendship as the two developed a personal and a working relationship through golf.

Martin was a 3-time All-Pac 10 golfer at Stanford and was on the 1994 NCAA Championship team. During his time at Stanford he was a teammate of Tiger Woods.

Martin has a birth defect, Klippel–Trénaunay syndrome, that limited his ability to walk and play on the PGA Tour. At the time the Tour had a rule that all competitors had to walk and could not use a cart.

Martin sued the PGA Tour under the American Disability Act. The case ended in the  U.S. Supreme Court which ruled 7-2 Martin could use a cart to play in PGA Tour events.

“I never saw so much media at any Buy.com event,” said Williams. “There were cameras and reporters everywhere, it was wild,” he said.

Martin had some success as a Tour player with one victory on the Buy.com Tour during his nearly 10-year career before going into coaching and winning an NCAA title at Oregon.

Williams caddied for Martin for 3-years before beginning his coaching career in basketball and eventually moving in to golf coaching and serving as his assistant for three years at Oregon.

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