Aug. 10, 2009
NORMAN, Okla. – University of Oklahoma men’s golf head coach Ryan Hybl announced the hiring of Blake Smart as his assistant coach on Monday. Smart had been the head coach at Kennesaw State the previous three seasons, quickly turning the Owls into one of the top golf programs in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
“Blake will be a great addition to our staff here at the University of Oklahoma,” said Hybl. “He is a tremendous asset in that he brings a lot of experience as a former head coach and provides everything we need to be successful on the level this program is capable of being.
“He is a person that the guys on the team can lean on,” added Hybl. “He is a well-rounded person who is very knowledgeable about the game from both a coach and player’s perspective. He will be a great complement to what we are focused on doing and he is eager to jump on board and be a part of the change.”
Smart believes that his familiarity with Hybl and his time as a head coach will assist him with his newest coaching position.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to join the Oklahoma program,” said Smart. “I’ve known Ryan for a number of years. I know his work ethic, his passion and goals, and look forward to helping him get the program back in the national limelight.
“I’ve been a head coach for the last three seasons, so I have a unique set of experiences in that I have run my own program. During that time, we’ve had some pretty good successes both athletically and academically and I am looking forward to building off of that at a program with a larger set of resources such as OU.”
The 28-year-old Smart guided KSU to eight top-10 finishes during the 2008-09 season, including a second-place finish at the Samford Intercollegiate and a third-place showing at the Mizuno Savannah Intercollegiate.
Smart coached five different players to Atlantic Sun honors in his three seasons with the Black and Gold, while one of Smart’s top recruits, Matt Nagy, qualified for the 2009 U.S. Open and became the first-ever Kennesaw State golfer to participate in a major championship.
Under Smart’s tutelage, the 2008-09 squad set Division I school records for team scoring average (292.1) and winning percentage, climbing as high as No. 44 in the Golfstat rankings.
In 2007-08, KSU shared third at the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship, its best conference finish since making the transition to the Division I level in 2005. The squad compiled an 89-48 (.650) record on the season and finished in the top three five times, including a runaway 22-stroke win at its own Inaugural Larry Nelson Collegiate Invitational.
Smart’s transformation of the KSU program was immediate, as the Owls closed the 2006-07 season with an 86-63 (.577) record in his first year at the helm of the program, finishing in the top half of the field in all but three tournaments (including wins at the Poplar Hill Intercollegiate and the Stetson/CDSC Invitational).
Prior to his time at Kennesaw State, Smart was an assistant coach for two seasons with both the men’s and women’s programs at his alma mater Berry College, an NAIA program in Rome, Ga. While on staff at Berry, Smart helped guide the squads to a pair of team titles and coached three individuals to tournament championships.
Competing at Berry from 1999-20004, Smart was an NAIA honorable mention All-American in 2002, as well as a two-time all-conference selection. In addition, he was selected to nine all-tournament teams during his four-year career. A member of two NAIA Championship runner-up teams in 2000 and 2002, Smart was a two-time academic All-American and a three-time academic all-conference selection.
A native of Cornelia, Ga., Smart has dual degrees in business management and economics from Berry and also received his M.B.A. from Berry in the spring of 2006.
He is married to the former Caroline Norris.