Head Coach Puggy Blackmon, who was inducted to the Golf Coaches' Association of America Hall of Fame in 2005, is in his 11th season at the helm of the South Carolina men's golf program.
Throughout his 10-year stint at South Carolina, Blackmon has continued to build his already impressive resume. USC has advanced to the NCAA Regionals every year since Blackmon began his career at South Carolina. Of those 10 regional berths, the Gamecocks have competed in five NCAA finals.
In 2005, under Blackmon's guidance, Gamecock freshman Mark Anderson placed first at both the Southern Highlands Collegiate Championship and the Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational and went on to earn Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year honors. Anderson was also named to the All-SEC first team, the Golf Coaches' Association of America All-Freshman team and a third-team All-American. Senior West Streib was also honored as the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for men's golf on 2005. In addition, Streib, senior Alex Hamilton and junior Eirik Johansen were named Cleveland Golf All-America Scholars. Carolina's three selections tied for the most of any school in the country for the second straight year.
In 2004, Blackmon's team captured three tournament titles, including an incredible 28-shot win at the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Championship. USC also finished first at the Palmetto Collegiate and Hawaii-Turtle Bay. Eirik Johansen (first team), Alex Hamilton (second team) and Martin Rominger (second team) earned All-SEC recognition. Rominger and Hamilton, along with Jake Thompson, were selected Cleveland Golf All-America Scholars. In 2003, Johansen earned several prestigious awards. He was named Honorable Mention All-America, first-team All-SEC, as well as being named to the All-Region and All-Freshman squad.
The Gamecocks have been ranked for over seven years under the helm of Blackmon, including a No. 3 national ranking in 1999 and fourth in 2000. Elevating the team to such high success are the seven team titles and 10 individual titles under Blackmon's reign. Kyle Thompson earned 1999 NCAA East Regional Champion and 2001 West Regional title, while Erik Ecker took home top honors at the 1998 SEC Tournament.
USC boasts seven All-Americans and 13 All-SEC performers since 1996, including two SEC Freshmen of the Year in Anderson and Brent Roof.
Blackmon's players have excelled academically as well. Former Gamecock Lars Cederqvist was named a 2000 Verizon Academic All-American as a senior after maintaining a 4.0 in mechanical engineering throughout his collegiate career. Kyle Thompson was a two-time member of the All-America Scholar Team. In the spring of 2005, Blackmon's players set a team record with an impressive 3.513 grade-point average, the best of any South Carolina men's team.
Ten players have earned GCAA Academic All-America status while 28 players have been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
"It has always been my goal to win the national championship and I believe that can be accomplished at South Carolina," Blackmon said upon his hiring. "The facilities and support of the people are unbelievable. The University Club is an outstanding facility and is a terrific asset to the golf program. South Carolina always has been a tremendous golf state and the people of Carolina may be the most loyal in the country."
Success has followed Blackmon his entire career -- whether it be at Georgia Tech or at South Carolina. In his first three seasons at South Carolina, he led primarily young and inexperienced teams to postseason play.
In addition to serving as the head men's golf coach at South Carolina, Blackmon maintains a close relationship with several of his former players and current PGA Tour Champions. His close friendship with tour star, David Duval, is widely recognized. In addition to Duval, Blackmon also remains a confidant for 2000 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, Michael Clark II.
Before coming to Carolina, Blackmon coached Georgia Tech to five Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, 11-consecutive NCAA Championship appearances and 34 team tournament titles. Blackmon was named head coach of the Gamecock program on June 5, 1995, and the highly-successful head coach made an immediate impact on the Gamecock program.
He took a team with one returning All-American and unproven youth to upper division finishes in many regular-season tournaments and a surprising sixth-place showing at the NCAA East Regional in his first year in 1996. Blackmon has a string of 20-straight NCAA postseason appearances.
During his 12-year tenure at Georgia Tech, Blackmon built the Yellow Jacket program into one of the most successful and dominant in all of college golf. His teams' 11-straight trips to the NCAA Tournament were matched only by six other schools in the history of college golf. Blackmon's 1993 Tech squad finished runner-up at the NCAAs and he led the Rambling Wreck to five top-seven national finishes. His Georgia Tech teams either won or finished second in the ACC Tournament nine times in his tenure.
A four-time ACC Coach of the Year (1984, 1985, 1992, 1993), three of Blackmon's former golfers finished second at the NCAA Championships and his players at South Carolina and Georgia Tech have won 31 individual tournament crowns. Blackmon has coached 30 All-Americans at Tech and Carolina and two national players of the year in the 1990s at Tech. Duval, a four-time All-American, was the 1993 National Player of the Year, while Stewart Cink, one of the brightest young stars in the professional ranks, was named the 1995 National Player of the Year.
Blackmon now has coached 30 All-SEC or All-ACC performers in his tenure, while five of those individuals -- Bob McDonnell (1985), David Duval (1991, 1993), Mikko Rantanen (1994) and Eric Ecker (1998) -- were conference medalists. The Yellow Jackets won the ACC team title in 1985, 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994, while Carolina was runner up by one stroke at the SEC's in 1998 -- USC's best finish ever.
His Georgia Tech teams had nearly a 100 percent graduation rate and more than 20 of his golfers earned ACC Academic Honor Roll accolades. Blackmon has also proven to be an effective fund raiser. He spearheaded the efforts which led to the endowment of his team's scholarships at Georgia Tech.
Born William Dempsey Blackmon III on Dec. 9, 1950 in Beaufort, S.C., he is a 1969 graduate of Ridgeland High School. Blackmon played collegiately at Carson-Newman College, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration in 1973. He was chosen one of the Outstanding College Athletes of America in 1971 and 1973. After receiving his Master of Science degree in economics from Clemson in 1977, Blackmon worked for six years in the golf resort operations and development field in Florida.
Blackmon has proven to be a top recruiter at both the national and international levels. He has successfully recruited at least one American Junior Golf Association All-America player each of the past 13 years. Blackmon also excels as being a teaching coach, having been a PGA professional and junior golf activist since 1973. He was instrumental in developing the Jacksonville (Fla.) and Atlanta Junior Golf Associations. Throughout his career, he has been involved in junior golf on the local, national and international levels.
Blackmon and his wife, Gail, also a Ridgeland native, have three children: a daughter, Ashley, and two sons, Jordan and Tate. Ashley, who is married to Jared Jones, is a graduate of the Medical University of South Carolina. Jordan is a senior at USC, and Tate, is junior at Blythewood High School.