Anne Kelly stepping down as CU women’s golf head coach at end of season — her 27th with the Buffs; she’s led CU to 2 top-20 finishes in NCAA national championships
By Gary Baines – 10/16/2023
The longest-serving NCAA Division I women’s head coach in the history of Colorado-based golf programs is retiring at season’s end.
Anne Kelly, who’s in the midst of her 27th season as the University of Colorado women’s coach, will wrap up her CU career when the 2023-24 campaign concludes in the spring. She’s the longest-serving female head coach in CU sports history.
“I have made a personal decision to bow out as head coach of CU women’s golf at the end of this season,” the 62-year-old Aspen native told CUBuffs.com. “It’s a difficult choice because I absolutely cherish our team (and) this job, and love the University of Colorado. I feel so blessed and grateful to have served in this position for 27 years.
“It’s not easy to let go, but all good things come to an end and the time is right for me to say farewell. It’s a difficult, emotional decision, but I feel confident about where the program is headed. The time is right for me to hand off the program and become CU golf’s biggest fan.
“‘Why announce now?’ is a question I asked myself, but when I decided that after this season the time was right to move on, I wanted to make it known so I could put all my focus and energy into our current team and having the best season possible. I also felt it was ethically correct to let recruits know of my decision before they made their decision and signed a (National Letter of Intent).”
In 1997 Kelly became just the second women’s golf head coach in CU history, following Justi Rae Miller (1994-97). Over her first 26 years on the job, Kelly has led Buffs teams to two NCAA national championship tournaments — they placed 18th in 2012 and 19th in 2018 — and eight NCAA Regionals, the most recent coming in 2018. Among her players who have gone on to play on the LPGA Tour are Jenny Coleman, Esther Lee and Robyn Choi.
“I’m proud of our accomplishments and growth, but primarily proud of so many of the young women who have played for Colorado and the amazing, successful and caring adults they have become,” Kelly said. “That is the true success that I will always cherish.”
Said Emily (Talley) Hoye, an honorable-mention All-American who played under Kelly from 2008-12: “Anne Kelly was the golf coach of my dreams. … I could always count on her warmth, humor and understanding. Annie has given her heart and soul to CU and I am eternally grateful for this. I can’t imagine where I would be today if it weren’t for her giving me a shot (maybe a few extra mulligans, too) all those years ago.”
Kelly played her own college golf at Texas Christian University, and she helped the Horned Frogs win the NCAA title in 1983. In fact, that team recently was inducted into the TCU Athletics Hall of Fame. Kelly played 131 events on the LPGA Tour from 1985-93 (best finish: 20th place) before becoming a teaching professional in the early 1990s. Prior to being hired at CU, she served as head coach at North Carolina-Greensboro for a year and a half, earning Big South Coach of the Year honors in 1997.
“Anne will be remembered as a coach who cared as much for her players off the golf course as she did on it,” said Ceal Barry, former longtime CU women’s basketball coach and senior women’s administrator. “Anne’s steadfast and determined commitment to helping her athletes become better golfers, interested students and humble citizens will be a hallmark of her lengthy tenure at the university. I am so happy for her as she moves on to a well-deserved retirement.”
The CU women’s golf team, currently ranked No. 57 in the nation by Golfweek, has two tournaments left in the fall portion of its schedule. The Buffs’ season will run at least through the Pac-12 Championships April 21-23 in Pullman, Wash., and could extend to NCAA Regionals and possibly beyond, depending on CU’s performance.
About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for ColoradoGolf.org since 2009. He was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates ColoradoGolfJournal.com