OU gets gem in Hybl

Ryan Hybl of the University of Georgia hits a shot at the 2001 NCAA Men's Golf Championship.

Ryan Hybl of the University of Georgia hits a shot at the 2001 NCAA Men's Golf Championship.

From playing and coaching perspectives, Ryan Hybl knows what it takes for a college golf program to be successful.

During his playing career in 2001-04 under coach Chris Haack at the University of Georgia, Hybl was an All-Southeastern Conference and All-America performer.

After a one-year stint working with the AJGA, Hybl returned to Athens and served as Haack’s assistant, from 2005 through 2007.

During the past dozen years, Georgia has been one of the premier golf programs in the country, and Hybl, as a player and a coach, has had a lot to do with that success.

Now, in his first head coaching job, he hopes to bring what he as learned to Norman, Okla., where in June he was named head men’s golf coach at Oklahoma.

It was a very good hire. Hybl has some big challenges ahead, and he is aware of them. He also knows that turning OU’s fortunes around is not something that will happen overnight. Building a golf program to compete successfully on the big stage takes time.

“My first goal is to hit the ground running with recruiting,” Hybl said. “I have to start getting the OU brand out there, and I’ve pretty much been on the road (since being hired) trying to do just that.

“At OU we have the facilities, the resources, the budget, the support. It’s up to me to put it all together. I want to try to get people more excited about the program and especially get the alumni more involved,” he said.

So far, Hybl said, he has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the school’s administration, athletic department, alumni and fans.

“I think everyone here is hungry to see the golf program step up and compete on a high level,” Hybl said. “From Day One, we will not just be going through the motions of competing; we will be thinking about winning and winning championships. The goal this first year is to get our guys better. I want them to be the best they can be, not only on the golf course but in the classroom as well.”

Even before landing the OU job, Hybl had ties within Sooner Nation.

As Golfweek’s No. 1 junior player and the AJGA’s Player of the Year in 1998, he was recruited by just about every major college, including then-Oklahoma coach Gregg Grost. Hybl made a visit to the campus. Though he signed with Georgia, he says OU was a close second and he loved what it had to offer.

The Hybl name is certainly no stranger within the school’s athletic department. Ryan’s older brother Nate was a quarterback for the Sooners and MVP of the 2002 Rose Bowl.

No doubt that was a big plus in getting Ryan into the interview process when the golf job became open.

Some might think OU went out on a limb, hiring someone with no previous head-coaching experience. But I can assure you that Hybl was well-trained in all aspects of coaching during his time at Georgia.

“I really learned a lot from Coach Haack,” Hybl said, “especially from the managerial side. “Coach Haack is a great fundraiser and deals with people so well. I was fortunate he allowed me to do a lot of that myself. He allowed me to grow as a person and a golf coach. He always had a good relationship with the boosters and the community, and I learned how important that is in building and maintaining a successful program.”

Hybl was out of coaching the past year and a half as he turned his attention to a professional golf career in early 2008, playing on the Nationwide Tour, Hooters Tour and Tar Heel Tour. However, that spring he developed elbow problems from a bone spur. In September, he had surgery and began rehabilitation.

“I really worked hard at getting back (to playing),” said Hybl, who was runner-up at the 2006 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. “But I just couldn’t do it.”

In April, he decided it was time to pursue another career, and golf coaching was at the top of his list.

“When the Oklahoma job became open, I jumped on it right away,” he said. “I’m very fortunate the way it all worked out.”

Oklahoma will be equally as fortunate. Given time, expect the Sooners once again to compete for championships – and that includes the one at the end of the season.

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