It’s no coincidence that Colorado’s climb as one of the top programs in the region has coincided with the hiring of Anne Kelly as its second head coach in 1997.
Entering her 16th season as head coach of the Colorado women’s golf team, Kelly and the Buffs continue CU’s new era after the school’s move to the toughest women’s golf conference in the country, the Pac-12. The timing proved to be right for Kelly and the Buffs, as CU enjoyed its most successful season in its inaugural Pac-12 campaign.
Kelly returned to her native Colorado from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she filled head coaching duties for one-and-a-half years. Prior to her work at UNC Greensboro, she spent five years from 1991-96 as a teaching professional at Silverbell Golf Course in Tucson, Ariz., where she earned PGA Class A status, a position which followed a six-year stint from 1984-90 on the LPGA Tour.
During her six seasons on the women’s tour, Kelly won a Women’s Professional Golf Tour event in Phoenix in 1991. She fired a career low round of 69 at the 1989 McDonald’s Championship and her career best finishes included several top-20 finishes. Her professional career culminated in a career low scoring average of 74.63 in 1990.
Kelly sparkled as a collegiate golfer, earning four letters for head coach Fred Warren and the Texas Christian University women’s golf team. She was a member of the Horned Frogs’ 1983 NCAA Championship team, and, all told, won 25 tournament team titles during her four-year career from 1979-83. She was named the team’s most valuable player in 1980 and won TCU’s Dutch Meyer Award, which recognizes the school’s outstanding student-athletes, in 1983. She also tied for top individual honors in the San Jose State Lady Spartan Classic in 1982. Her 1983 NCAA Championship team was inducted into the TCU Hall of Fame in October 2000.
“I love coaching because it allows me to combine my competitive experience and professional golf experience into one job,” Kelly says. “All of my different experiences in golf help me to assist team members in whatever situation they might encounter.”
At UNC Greensboro, Kelly was named the 1997 Big South Conference Coach of the Year after the team won two tournaments. She coached UNCG’s Becky Morgan to five individual tournament titles and second-team All-America standing on the year and, under Kelly’s tutelage, Morgan finished 10th individually at the 1997 NCAA Championships and also earned GTE Academic All-America honors. Morgan is now in her fifth year as an LPGA and European tour member.
Since Kelly’s arrive in 1997, the team has shown steady improvement and progress every year, culminating with the best season in program history last year. She has coached the Buffs to nine tournament wins and 30 second or third place finishes. Last season, the Buffs took a momentous step forward, qualifying for the NCAA Championships for the first time, while also earning a nod to NCAA Regionals for the third time in program history, all happening in the past four seasons.
Last season, the Buffs won three tournaments while playing the toughest slate in program history with all 12 events having a top 50 rank for strength of competition from Golfweek, with most earning a top 30 nod.
CU hosted the NCAA Regionals at Colorado National Golf Club and earned a trip to its own site after breaking into the top 10 for the first time in program history. CU was the No. 4 seed and looking to advance to the finals for the first time (eight teams from each site go). The Buffs struggled the first two days, but then put together one of the best team rounds in CU history, collectively shooting a 9-under par to jump from ninth to fourth the final day and advance.
The program has seen individual players excel both on the course and in the class room.
The Buffs have had 28 players earn 56 Academic All-Conference honors during Kelly’s tenure and the Buffs time in that league, and seven Buffs have been named to the prestigious NGCA All-America Scholars team, including for the first time two players in 2011 with Taylor Doyle and Jessica Wallace. Former Buff Maria Persson-Gulda was named to that team three times and was also honored with an NCAA postgraduate scholarship. She was honored as CU’s top female student athlete academically in 2006, an honor recent graduate Jamie Befort has racked up twice. Additionally, an astonishing 47 CU players have earned mention on the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll (3.0 GPA or higher in a semester) a total of 205 times in Kelly’s tenure.
Erin Kerr was the first Buff to qualify for a NCAA Regional post season bid in 2001 and that was followed up with another invitation in 2002. Hannah Hoch became a two time tournament winner in 2004-05 and broke many school records. She also became the first player in Buff history to be named All Big 12 second team that year as well. Last season, Emily Talley and Jessica Wallace were both named first-team All-Big 12, the first two players to earn that honor, and each were named twice as the Big 12 Golfer of the Month over the past two seasons. Wallace won CU’s only Big 12 individual honor, named the Newcomer of the Year last season, as well.
Then last season Talley became CU’s first All-American, earning honorable mention from both the coaches (Golfstat) and Golfweek. Alex Stewart joined Talley on the Golfweek poll as both were also given the distinction of being named to the All-Pac-12 team along with Wallace.
Born May 15, 1961, in Aspen, Colo., Kelly graduated from TCU in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in business communications. She prepped at Santa Rita High School in Tucson, Ariz.