Longtime Georgia Tech men’s golf coach Bruce Heppler has been named to coach the United States team at the 2015 Palmer Cup, while former Ryder Cup player Jean Van de Velde will lead the European team. The annual Ryder Cup-style competition will be played June 12-14 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.
This will be the second appointment as head coach of the United States Palmer Cup team for Heppler. The Georgia Tech head coach was the first American Palmer Cup coach to face a team composed of European Players when the event was held at Cassique at Kiawah Island, S.C., in 2003. A Tech player or coach has been on the American team 10 times since the event’s inception in 1997.
“I am certainly honored to be selected as part of this year’s Palmer Cup,” said Heppler. “Any time you get a chance to represent your country and peers in any form it becomes a special opportunity. I know Rich Harvest Farms is committed to having a great event for these great players. I’m looking forward to a great week for these special players.”
Now in his 20th year leading the Tech program, Heppler has guided the Yellow Jackets to the NCAA Championship every year since 1998, and helped author 11 top-8 finishes in the Finals, including three runner-up showings. Tech is currently on a run unprecedented in school history – seven Atlantic Coast Conference titles in the last nine years and four trips to match play at the NCAA Championship in the last five.
During his tenure, Tech has won or shared 10 Atlantic Coast Conference titles. Only two ACC coaches have led their teams to more ACC titles than has Heppler. The Yellow Jackets have captured or shared 44 team titles overall. He was named ACC Coach of the Year in 2014 for the eighth time, more than any coach in ACC history except one, and was a finalist for the GCAA’s Dave Williams national coach of the year award.
Since 2000, the Yellow Jackets have finished in the top 10 of the final Golfstat rankings 11 times, and in the final Golfweek/Sagarin top 10 twelve times. Tech has not finished lower than 14th in either ranking in any year.
Heppler has recruited and developed his share of star players as well. The Yellow Jackets have had at least a pair of All-Atlantic Coast Conference honorees in 16 of the last 17 years, and landed four members of the team on the squad twice (2005, 2011). Tech has had at least two players earn All-America honors 14 of the last 16 years, and Ollie Schniederjans became the Jackets’ 20th first-team selection in 2014. Three of his players, Matt Kuchar, Bryce Molder and Troy Matteson, have been named national players of the year.
His players have been just as successful in the classroom. Tech’s golf program has been recognized with a perfect Academic Progress Report score of 1000 for eight straight years, and every senior has graduated. Twelve different players under Heppler have been named All-America Scholars by the GCAA. Molder and Roberto Castro, have received the NCAA’s Top VIII Award, an honor given to eight student-athletes from all sports each year and recognizes those who excel in their sport and in the classroom, and exhibit high character, leadership and service to others. Three Georgia Tech golfers, Matteson, Castro and James White, have been honored with the Byron Nelson Award presented by Cleveland Golf/Srixon.
Heppler was a 2013 inductee to the GCAA Hall of Fame and serves as the Association’s treasurer.