After 20 years at the helm of the Tennessee men’s golf team and 30 years of Division I coaching experience, Jim Kelson has decided to step away from his duties as the head coach of the Vols.
Kelson took the time to reflect upon his career in Knoxville after announcing his retirement.
"Being the head men's golf coach at the University of Tennessee over the past 20 years has been the biggest privilege of my life," Kelson said. “It has really been a terrific 20-year career. I have made a lifetime of wonderful friendships.”
His impressive tenure with the Vols ranks second in the golf program’s history in terms of length.
Not only was Kelson’s career long, it has been quite illustrious. His win mark of 2,024 is the second-most in Tennessee history, including 358 SEC-wins, another total good for second place.
Kelson led the Vols to 17 NCAA Regional berths, including 15 consecutive times from 2000 through 2014, a school record. He has also led his squad to seven different NCAA Championships, including three straight from 2009 to 2011.
In 2007, the team, under Kelson, beat Alabama by two strokes to claim the SEC Title for the first time in 17 years to that point.
Garnering 25 tournament wins as Tennessee’s head coach, Kelson leads the pack in that area.
Not only has he been a successful team coach, but Kelson’s presence is felt when one looks at the individuals he has produced from Tennessee’s golf program.
Nineteen of his former players have gone on to compete in some form of professional capacity, including Rick Lamb, a successful golfer who recently won the LECOM Health Challenge Tournament in 2016 and is currently participating in the PGA Tour.
Senior Lorenzo Scalise is set to be the 20th golfer coached by Kelson to turn to the professional green.
Three Vols under Kelson have earned All-American honors four times. He has also seen 11 student-athletes earn Academic All-American honors.
In 2005, he coached David Skinns to an SEC Individual Championship, Tennessee’s first individual champion in 15 years.
Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer weighed in on Kelson’s time at Tennessee.
“Jim has poured himself into the Tennessee golf program and has had a tremendous impact on his student-athletes over the past 20 years," Fulmer said. “We're extremely grateful for his service to the university and appreciative of the way he led the program.”
Tennessee’s director of instruction and player development for the past three seasons, Sean Pacetti, has agreed to serve as interim head coach.