Legendary University of Texas Men’s Athletic Director Deloss Dodds once described Head Men’s Golf Coach John Fields with the quote, “John Fields proves that tough times don’t last, tough people do.”
The 2012 NCAA Coach of the Year has directed the men’s golf program to become a national power in the collegiate golf world. In his 18 seasons on the Forty Acres, Fields has guided the Longhorns to eight top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championship, five Big 12 titles, and one National Championship. The Longhorns currently have the second-longest active streak of NCAA Championship appearances in the country at eight-straight years.
Fields’ eye for talent and consistent effort on the recruiting trail has translated into building a successful program. He has produced 16 All-Americans at Texas (Matt Bortis, Matt Brost, Brad Elder, Dylan Frittelli, David Gossett, Cody Gribble, Jason Hartwick, Beau Hossler, Charlie Holland, Bobby Hudson, John Klauk, Lance Lopez, Matthew Rosenfeld, Jordan Spieth, Brandon Stone, and J.J. Wall) who have earned a total of 24 All-America honors.
Fields came to Austin after leading the University of New Mexico to nine NCAA Championship appearances in 10 years.
Fields directed the Longhorns to the pinnacle of college golf in the 2011-2012 season as the Longhorns claimed their first national title since 1972. The Longhorns’ 2011-12 season personified the competitive composure of Fields. UT topped Alabama, 3-2, with All-American Dylan Frittelli’s 30-putt birdie putt on the 18th hole to take the National Championship. Texas met the Crimson Tide on the final day of team match play at California’s historic Riviera Country Club, and Alabama forced UT to climb out of a 2-0 hole for its eight victory of the season.
The architect of a Texas team that won eight team titles during the 2011-12 season, Fields’ Longhorns held the No. 1 national ranking all but two weeks during the year and boasted two of the top three players in the country in Spieth (No. 2) and Frittelli (No. 3). Fields was named the Golfweek and NCAA Division I National Coach of the Year after leading Texas to its first NCAA Championship in 40 years.
Fields continued to keep the Longhorns on the national map following the 2012 NCAA Championship as they cruised to five team victories throughout 2012-13, including Texas’ first Big 12 Championship crown since 2004. Ben Hogan Award semifinalist Brandon Stone became Texas’ fourth conference medalist and first in seven years in a season that capped off three medalist honors for the National Freshman of the Year and All-America First Team honoree.
The 2013-14 Longhorns extended the nation’s second-longest streak of NCAA Champions appearances to eight seasons. The Longhorns placed 13th at the NCAA Championships after placing fifth at the NCAA Auburn Regional. Texas won the Big 12 Championship by three strokes. The win marked the Longhorns second-consecutive and fifth overall Big 12 Championship title. Fields won the Coach of the Year and Beau Hossler was honored as the conference’s Freshman of the Year. Texas placed three on the All-Big 12 Team as Hossler, Kramer Hickok, and Toni Hakula were honored. Hossler also made the PING All-America honorable mention team.
The Longhorns tied for 12th place at the 2011 NCAA Championships after taking fifth at the NCAA West Regional Championship. Frittelli collected his second consecutive PING third-team All-America selection after posting a career-best tie for 20th place.
Frittelli, Gribble and Hudson earned PING All-America honors during the 2009-10 campaign that saw the Longhorns win two events (NCAA East Regional, Puerto Rico Classic) and tie for 21st place at the NCAA Championships. Frittelli, the 2010 Big 12 Conference Player of the Year, and Gribble earned third-team All-America honors, while Hudson earned an honorable mention selection.
In 2009, Texas placed 26th at the NCAA Championships after qualifying for the event with a third-place finish at the NCAA Austin Regional Championships at The University of Texas Golf Club. Then-UT junior Lance Lopez captured the regional with a 4-under par effort to become the fourth current Longhorn to have won a college tournament. The win also secured Lopez’s standing as an honorable mention All-American.
Texas posted six top-five team finishes during the 2008-09 season and won the season-opening Gopher Invitational and the Turtle Bay Collegiate Invitational. Additionally, Frittelli took medalist honors at the Puerto Rico Classic as a true freshman.
In 2008, Fields led Texas to the NCAA Championships after placing second at the Big 12 Championships and emerging from a three-team playoff at the NCAA West Regional Championship. Texas missed the final-round cut and placed 19th overall at the event. Fields guided Texas to the team title at UT’s Morris Williams Intercollegiate, where redshirt freshman Bobby Hudson took medalist honors behind a course-record 65 at The UT Golf Club. In addition, Holland scored his first tournament victory at the Fresno State Lexus Classic.
In 2007, Fields led the Longhorns to a tie for 11th place at the NCAA Championships, as redshirt freshman Charlie Holland chipped in UT’s top individual showing by tying for 22nd place. Texas qualified for the NCAA Championships by placing ninth at the NCAA Central Regional Championship in Sugar Grove, Ill.
Fields’ Longhorns came alive in the fall of 2006, scoring victories at the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational and the Aloha Purdue Collegiate. UT ran away with a 12-stroke victory at the Isleworth before closing out the fall with a six-stroke win at the Aloha Purdue Collegiate. Texas later added top-five showings at the Morris Williams Intercollegiate (4th) and the Big 12 Championship (4th).
In 2005-06, Fields guided Matt Rosenfeld to UT’s 36th all-time conference medalist honors at the 2006 Big 12 Championship. The Longhorns finished the season ranked 18th by Golfstat.com and placed among the Top Five at five of 12 tournaments. Matthew Mills and Jeff Bell were both named to the PING South All-Region team and Bell joined Rosenfeld on the Academic All-Big 12 team. The Longhorns fell one-stroke short of qualifying for the NCAA Championship with an 11th-place finish at the Central Regional.
In 2004-05, Texas finished fourth at the Big 12 Championships and 24th at the NCA Championships. Matthew Rosenfeld was named a PING All-American for the third time in his career and Jeff Bell was named to the PING South All-Region Team. UT finished in the top five of seven out of its 11 regular season tournaments and had three individuals place among the top three on separate occasions.
During the 2003-04 season, Fields’ team once again proved itself on the course with 13 consecutive top-10 showings to close the season, including a record-setting third-straight victory at the Big 12 Championships and a fourth-place effort at the NCAA Championship. In addition to the team’s other victory at the Cleveland Golf Classic, Longhorns copped four individual titles.
Senior Jason Hartwick alone scored three wins, including the Big 12 Championship with his nine-stroke victory. Matthew Rosenfeld also won the Cleveland Golf Classic, leading a pack of three UT golfers at the top of the leader board as Hartwick and Jeff Bell finished tied for second. Hartwick was chosen as the 2004 Big 12 Golfer of the Year and later added his fourth-career All-American nod with a first-team selection. Fields earned his third straight Big 12 Coach of the Year honor after his record-setting third-consecutive Big 12 title.
The 2002-03 season typified the type of successful golf Fields coaches. The Longhorns finished in the top 10 in all 13 stroke-play tournaments the team played. The team’s continued success at the conference championships parleyed into similar results for the rest of the season as UT went on to finish fourth at the NCAA Central Regional in Manhattan, Kan., and tied for ninth at the NCAA Championships in Stillwater, Okla. At the conclusion of play in 2003, Texas was ranked fifth in the final Golfweek/Sagarin ratings. Wall continued to play well in the twilight of his UT career, finishing in a three-way tie for third at the regional. In his final collegiate tournament he helped usher in a new team leader on the course as freshman Matthew Rosenfeld capped a tremendous first-year campaign with a third-place finish at the national championships. Hartwick captured a tie for sixth place in the final event of the year.
At the conclusion of the season, several Longhorns - including Fields - were honored for their success on the course. Hartwick (third team) and Rosenfeld (honorable mention) were PING All-America selections, and both joined Wall on the All-Big 12 team. Rosenfeld was also honored as the Big 12 Freshman of the Year, and Fields was recognized by his peers as the Big 12 Coach of the Year for the second-consecutive season. Hartwick’s All-America honor was the third of his three-year career in Austin.
The 2001-02 campaign proved not only to be the most successful during Fields’ tenure at UT, but also one of the best in school history. The Longhorns posted a total of five tournament team titles during the season, including a stretch of four consecutive wins during the spring schedule. This marked the first time that Texas had won at least five team titles in a season since 1992-93, when the Horns also captured a total of five tourney crowns. The four consecutive team wins tied a school record, set in both the 1972-73 and 1982-83 campaigns.
Texas concluded its win streak with a one-stroke victory at the Big 12 Conference Championships at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan. The Longhorns trailed Oklahoma by 10 strokes entering the final round, but made up 13 strokes on the Sooners and held off a late surge by Oklahoma State to capture their first-ever Big 12 team title. UT’s winning score of 10-over-par 850 marked a Big 12 Championships record.
Texas capped off the season with a tie for third place at the NCAA Championships in Columbus, Ohio, which marked the best finish for Texas at NCAAs since 1995 when the Horns also placed third. For his efforts, Fields was tabbed the Big 12 Coach of the Year. Senior John Klauk claimed second-team GCAA (Golf Coaches Association of America) All-America honors, while sophomore Jason Hartwick was named to the third team. In addition, junior J.J. Wall was tabbed an honorable mention All-American. The 2000-01 Longhorns finished in the top five in 10 of 13 tournaments, including a team title at the Waikoloa Intercollegiate. UT concluded the campaign ranked No. 6 in the final MasterCard national rankings. Freshman Jason Hartwick and junior John Klauk earned honorable mention All-America accolades, while Hartwick was tabbed the Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Year.
Texas enjoyed an excellent season under Fields in 1999-2000, when it earned two tournament victories and finished in the top five in seven of 13 events. The Longhorns capped off the season by winning the team title at the NCAA Central Regional and recording a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Sophomore David Gossett earned first-team All-America recognition for the second straight year, while sophomore Matt Brost garnered honorable mention All-America accolades. Gossett began the year by winning the 1999 U.S. Amateur title, defeating Sun Yoon Kim (9-and-8) in the 36-hole match-play final.
He then went on to post three top-five individual finishes and tied for third place at the NCAA Championships. In July 2000, Gossett became the seventh player under Fields to turn professional and play on the PGA Tour or the Nationwide Tour (formerly the Buy.com Tour). UT posted three tournament victories and finished in the top three in seven of its 14 appearances during the 1998-99 campaign. The Longhorns placed third at the Big 12 Championships and ended the year ranked No. 15 in the final MasterCard national rankings.
In Fields’ first season with the Longhorns, UT recorded four top-10 showings in 12 appearances, highlighted by a second-place finish at the Big 12 Championships. Senior Brad Elder earned third-team All-America honors and ended his collegiate career as the nation’s No. 1 amateur according to the Golfweek/Titleist amateur rankings.
While at the helm of the New Mexico men’s golf program, the Lobos won three Western Athletic Conference titles and never finished lower than third in the league championships during Fields’ 10 seasons. At the NCAA Championships, New Mexico placed in the Top 15 a total of five times, including a sixth-place finish in 1996, the school’s best showing since 1979.
He tutored four WAC Players of the Year, three WAC individual champions, nine All-Americans, 24 all-conference players and six Academic All-Americans. He earned four WAC Coach of the Year honors (1989, 1993, 1995 and 1996) and four NCAA District VII Coach of the Year honors (1993, 1995, 1996 and 1997). Fields’ efforts also helped bring the NCAA Championships to Albuquerque in both 1992 and 1998. PGA Tour veterans Doug LaBelle and D.J. Brigman earned second-team All-America honors under Fields at New Mexico.
Current PGA Tour members who played for Fields include: Brad Elder, David Gossett, Tim Herron, Kent Jones and Sean Murphy. Herron graduated from New Mexico in 1993 after earning first-team All-America honors and turned pro the year he graduated. Jones, a two-time Academic All-American, earned his degree from New Mexico in 1990 and turned pro in 1992. Murphy has enjoyed a pro career since 1988, while Elder earned his PGA Tour card in 2000. One of the rising young stars in professional golf, David Gossett began his fourth full year on the PGA Tour in 2004.
A native of Las Cruces, N.M., Fields was a four-year letterman at New Mexico before earning his degree in 1982. He was a member of Lobos golf teams that finished fifth and seventh at the NCAA Championships.
While earning his degree as a fifth-year senior, he served as a part-time assistant for the Lobos program during the 1981-82 season, before spending the next year on the PGA European Tour. After his stint on the professional circuit, Fields became the assistant head golf professional at Mesa del Sol Golf Course in Yuma, Ariz., where he became a Class A PGA member in 1986. He then took the New Mexico coaching job in November 1987.
Fields, born on January 10, 1959, and his wife, Pearl, a 1982 graduate of New Mexico, have two children, Marshall and April.