Martha Richards named Women's Golf coach
AUSTIN, Texas -- Martha Richards, former Longhorns golf assistant coach who spent the last seven years at Vanderbilt University building their women’s golf program into a national contender, has been named women’s golf head coach at The University of Texas. The announcement was made Tuesday by UT Women’s Athletics Director Chris Plonsky.
Richards’ appointment is effective immediately. She replaces Susan Watkins, who stepped aside in May after serving as Longhorns women’s golf head coach for 14 seasons. Before taking over at Vanderbilt in June of 2000, Richards served three seasons as an assistant women’s golf coach at Texas under Watkins from 1998-2000.
“We are so fortunate to welcome Martha Richards back to UT,” Plonsky said. “She is considered by many to be one of the finest women’s coaches in the nation. A tremendous recruiter, Martha built and developed the Vanderbilt golf program from infancy, and that program is now admired in the powerful SEC and nationally. She had to learn the hard way at Vanderbilt, building the program from scratch, and nothing could prepare her more professionally than doing just that.”
“There are great young golfers in the state of Texas, and I look forward to recruiting the very best student-athletes and have them wearing burnt orange and throwing up the ‘Hook ‘Em Horns’ sign,” Richards added. “Additionally, I welcome the opportunity that living in Austin presents. The quality of life in this city, coupled with the commitment to excellence at UT, makes this coaching position so attractive.”
“When Martha was an assistant here at Texas, you could see that she was going to have an impressive coaching future. Everyone admired her, and she developed great contacts with the golf community here, contacts she has kept. I believe our golf program will have a tremendously bright future under her leadership,” Plonsky stated.
Richards joined the Longhorns in February of 1998 from Boise State, where she had served as the head women’s golf coach since 1997. Richards made an impact right away, as she helped UT to a 10th-place finish at the NCAA Championships. In Richards’ second season as an assistant coach, Texas placed ninth at the NCAA Championships and second at the Big 12 Championships behind All-Big 12 selections Laura Blessey, Kristin Dufour and Randi Meadows.
Richards led Vanderbilt to its finest season in 2004, when the Commodores placed fifth at the NCAA Championship and captured the NCAA Central Region title. VU also claimed the SEC Championship that season, during which the Commodores set school records with five team championships and four individual titles.
“Martha brings a unique background back to UT, having been a student-athlete in two sports at a high-profile university (Stanford), then playing professionally for a few years before entering the coaching profession. She understands the great demands placed on student-athletes at high-profile programs, and understands what it takes to excel.”
Richards was a rare two-sport athlete at her alma mater, Stanford University. She played golf at Stanford and earned All-America honors from the National Golf Coaches Association in 1993. She also earned All-Pac 10 Conference honors and was later named to the Pac-10 All-Decade Golf Team for the 1990s. Richards also was an accomplished basketball player at Stanford. She came to Stanford as the 1988 National High School Basketball Player of the Year before helping the Cardinal to the NCAA title in 1990.
After completing her collegiate golf career, Richards served as a volunteer assistant coach at Stanford before playing on the LPGA Tour in 1995 and 1996. In 1997, she became a teaching professional at the Jim McLean Golf Academy where she was involved with the Executive Women’s Golf Association and oversaw the instruction at the LPGA Junior Girls Club.
“I would be remiss if I did not say that it was an extremely difficult decision to leave Vanderbilt and to leave the program we’ve worked very hard to build into a national championship contender,” stated Richards. “I appreciate my time at Vandy, and am thankful that I had the opportunity to work with such tremendous student-athletes, colleagues, and a great golf community during my time in Nashville. The golf community, and Nashville as a whole, really embraced the women’s golf program, and I am certain that will continue.”