College Men

Florida's Buddy Alexander to retire after season

Florida head coach Buddy Alexander, shown in 2009 with his son Tyson, will retire after this season.
Florida head coach Buddy Alexander, shown in 2009 with his son Tyson, will retire after this season. ( Tracy Wilcox )

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

After 27 years, two national titles and eight Southeastern Conference Championships at Florida, Buddy Alexander has announced that he will retire at the end of this season.

Alexander, 61, is the program's longest-tenured coach. He has also led the Gators to 11 top 10s at the National Championship, earned the SEC Coach of the Year award eight times and overlooked 31 eventual PGA Tour members. The list of Gators that Alexander coached include: Chris DiMarco, Dudley Hart, Brian Gay, Billy Horschel, Matt Every and Camilo Villegas.

“He’s one of the all-time greats,’’ Florida athletics director Jeremy Foley said in a release. “He’s had a heck of a run. There’s no better Gator than Buddy Alexander.”

Foley said that he will begin a national search for the coach that will replace Alexander, whose retirement will become official on June 30. Florida, the No. 72 team in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, has not posted a top-10 finish at the NCAA Championship since 2007.

“This has been a tough year, but in reality, the last three years have not been up to our/my expected standards,’’ Alexander said in a letter he prepared for Gator golf boosters. “Coaching is a young man’s game and it is simply time for me to turn the reins over to someone else and allow this great university, athletic department and golf program to be everything it should be.

“Life and golf are so similar. There are many ups and downs and highs and lows. Today is one of those days that stir all kinds of emotion, it’s sad that my time has come, but I’m happy everything worked out so well. I am in a good place, as will our golf program in the future.”

One of his former players, current PGA Tour winner Billy Horschel, took to Twitter to thank his mentor.

Alexander, who was inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America Coaches' Hall of Fame in 2001, led Florida to its third and fourth National Championships in 1993 and 2001. He spent time as coach at Georgia Southern (1977-80) and LSU (1983-87) before making his way to Gainesville and enjoyed a successful amateur golfing career before that.

Alexander was a two-time All-American at Georgia Southern in the 70s, a U.S. Amateur champion in 1986 and a member of the 1987 U.S. Walker Cup Team.

"I came to Florida because I thought it gave me a great chance to compete,’’ Alexander said in a release. “You get into coaching initially because you love golf, you love kids and you love to compete. What I was thinking when I came here was that it was an elite college golf program that has been down since [former coach] Buster [Bishop] was around, and I thought it was an opportunity to turn it back around in the other direction.”

The Gators will compete in the SEC Championship April 25-27 at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga.