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Alumnus Chris Haack (West Georgia) is Living Life on the Greens

Chris Haack has a job most would envy. 

As the head golf coach for the University of Georgia, he spends most of his days in one of the coolest college towns – Athens, Ga. – and on premier golf courses across the country during the golf season.

“I grew up a Georgia fan and always loved the Dawgs…so I really never wanted to be anywhere else,” said Haack, who has been with UGA since 1996 and also serves as the director of golf.

His love of golf started in his childhood in Newnan, Ga., tagging along with his mom to the golf club where she would let him play all day long. His talent on the golf course landed him a spot on the college team at nearby West Georgia College.

“I played for a year in college, but soon realized that I was not going to play pro golf,” laughs Haack, who pledged Sigma Nu at West Georgia.  

His path to coaching and ultimately UGA began in the early 80s – well before the idea of being a coach ever entered his mind. 

In 1981 Haack joined the American Junior Golf Association as its tournament director, rising to director of development by 1985. He helped create the acclaimed Canon Cup tournament, which featured the top 10 boys and girls in the East challenging their peers in the West. 

Haack captained the West team for six years, where he coached several rising stars of golf, including a 14-year-old future phenom named Tiger Woods. 

“He was on my Canon Cup team and was kind of unknown at the time,” Haack recalls of the young Tiger. “But you could see he had the knack for being really good at golf.”

After 16 years with the AJGA, Haack was named the Georgia men’s golf coach in 1996. 

“When the opportunity for the UGA job came around, the Canon Cup experience made it an interesting thought for me,” Haack said of his decision to pursue the opportunity at UGA.

He took over a solid golf program that had long been in the shadow of a premier football team. So, Haack set about turning on the spotlights.

After just three years at the helm, the UGA men’s golf team sat atop the national polls and won the school’s first golf national championship in 1999. Haack was named the National Coach of the Year – the first for a UGA golf coach.

The accomplishments of the UGA golf program began pouring in and now stretch as long as southern summers. A second national championship came in 2005, Haack was selected SEC coach of the year five times, and his former players are a Who’s Who of golfing elite. 

In the 2021 Master’s Tournament, five of his former UGA golfers were in the mix, including two-time winner Bubba Watson, Kevin Kisner, and Harris English. 

He laughs when asked who his favorite player is among all he’s coached, saying he gets asked that all the time.

“I used to say it’s like picking a favorite child,” said Haack, who has a son, daughter, and four stepdaughters. “But it’s a little easier these days.”

Greyson Sigg, a former UGA standout currently on the PGA tour, is engaged to his daughter.

Golf may be an individual sport, but Haack understands it’s about connections among the team. Every player who wore the UGA red and black is still part of the team. 

It’s the same with his Sigma Nu brothers, even after decades.

“A lot of those guys are some of my closest friends today,” said Haack. “We get together at my lake house, and we still tell the old stories.”

At his wedding four years ago, several brothers attended, along with his best friend, Paul Weathington, who performed the ceremony.

“Sigma Nu brought us all together,” Haack says.

Looking down the road, he doesn’t see the path to retirement. Although an injury last winter slowed down his golf game, the coaching game is strong.

“It’s one of the best [golf coaching] jobs in the country…it’s a premier golf school, so why go anywhere else,” Haack muses.

P.S…. for the record, his top five favorite courses are Pebble Beach, Augusta National, Pine Valley, Cypress Point, and Merion, with The Valley Club of Montecito first runner up.

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