Ole Miss Men's Golf History
Cary Middlecoff, a Memphis, Tenn., native, distinguished himself as the greatest golfer in Ole Miss history and one of the best the Mid-South has ever known. Middlecoff was Ole Miss' first golf All-American in 1939.
He entered the PGA tour in 1947, and from 1947 to 1961, Middlecoff won more than 40 tour events and about $250,000. He finished runner-up on the money list four times.
Middlecoff won the 1949 and 1956 U.S. Opens and the 1955 Masters. He was runner-up in the 1957 U.S. Open and finished second twice in the Masters, 1948 and 1959. Middlecoff just missed winning the 1955 PGA Championship as he was edged out by Doug Ford.
Middlecoff's best year came in 1955 when he won six titles (The Masters, Crosby, St. Petersburg, Western, Miller Open and Cavalcade of Golf) and was the second leading money earner. He also finished second on the money list in 1949, 1951 and 1952, captured the Vardon Trophy in 1956 with a 70.35 stroke average and competed on winning Ryder Cup teams in 1953, 1955 and 1959.
In 1974, Middlecoff was inducted by the PGA of America (in conjunction with golf writers and a panel of other experts) into the PGA Hall of Fame. He became the 48th member of the PGA/World Golf Hall of Fame in 1986. Middlecoff was one of the first inductees into the PGA Hall of Fame along with Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen.
In 1979, Ernest Ross took over the reigns at Ole Miss and produced great results. After the Rebels finished ninth at the SEC Championships during his first season, Ross guided Ole Miss to a second-place effort in 1982 and the conference crown in 1984. Ross was named SEC Coach of the Year in both '82 and '84.
Under his guidance, the Rebels made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 1984 and 1985. The '85 campaign ended with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Ross also led the Rebels to 15 regular-season tournament titles during his first stint in Oxford.
Several individual accomplishments were also seen during Ross' first eight seasons at Ole Miss. Randy Watkins (1982), Dave Peege (1984 & 1985) and Darren Cole (1984 & 1985) earned All-America honors. Peege also picked up SEC Player of the Year accolades in 1984, while Peege and Cole were named Co-Players of the Year in 1985. Six of Ross' former players followed up their college eligibility with time spent on the PGA Tour.
Ole Miss advanced to the NCAA Finals in 1999 and 2001 under then head coach Woody Cowart, who coached two players to All-America honors and three to All-SEC accolades.
After 16 years as the head pro at the Country Club of Jackson, Ross returned to his Alma Mater in 2004. Almost immediately after his arrival, Ross set out to return the program back to the prominence it enjoyed in his first stint as head coach.
Since his return, the Rebels have made five straight NCAA Regional appearances and posted their best finish (2nd) at the SEC Championship since they won it in 1984. Brandon, Miss., native Jonathan Randolph became the second player in program history to earn first team All-America honors, achieving that distinction in 2010. He set numerous records during his career including lowest stroke average (70.44) in a season.
Several improvements have been made to the University Golf Course, including the addition of the Whitten Golf House, home to both the men's and women's golf teams.
The center houses team meeting rooms, locker rooms for both teams, coaches offices, areas for storage and repair of golf equipment as well as a state of the art center with computer equipment to help in training individuals.
A new driving range for the teams was added in 2006, as well as a short-game facility in 2009. The latest addition to the teams is the Herrington Golf Center, which was completed in time for the 2012 season. The Clay and Elinor Herrington Charitable Remainder Trust provided a gift to construct the 3,600-square-foot indoor-outdoor practice facility with hitting and video bays that will enable the collegiate golfers to continue their practices regardless of weather conditions.