When J.T. Higgins took over the Texas A&M men's golf program in the fall of 2001, he knew it would be a challenge.
After all, he was replacing coaching legend Bob Ellis, a Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Famer who had guided the golf program for more than 20 years. He also was taking on a program that had not advanced to the NCAA Championship since 1997 and had only qualified for the finals three times since the inception of regional championships in 1989.
"Actually, I thought it would be easy," Higgins said. "I guess that's because it seemed easy after being an assistant coach at UNLV (1991-97) and working under Dwaine Knight and taking over the program at New Mexico (1997-2001) which John Fields had established."
Higgins soon found out there was a lot more to it. And, he found out quickly.
"My first year we started out with 13 players on the roster and we finished the
season with six players after some quit and some I let go," said Higgins, who was the 2001 Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year while at New Mexico. "By the end of that first year I was just happy to field a team."
He hit the recruiting trail hard and started bringing some very talented players into the fold. It's been paying off ever since.