THE FLATS – At the helm of Georgia Tech’s golf program for 13 Atlantic Coast Conference championships, 18 appearances in the NCAA Championship and 67 tournament titles overall, Bruce Heppler has been selected for induction into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame as part of its Class of 2022.
The Georgia State Golf Association made the announcement Thursday that Heppler will be inducted into its Hall of Fame along with longtime club professional Tommy Brannen of Augusta, Ga., UGA All-America golfer Terri Moody Hancock of Athens, Ga., and longtime advocate and contributor William Lewis of College Park, Ga. They bring the total number of Georgia Golf Hall of Fame members to 127.
“What a tremendous thrill to be honored in this way,” said Heppler. “To be recognized by the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame is even more meaningful when you think about the history, from the Jones family, the Masters, the Tour Championship and all the great players, coaches and teachers this state has produced, not to mention the tremendous college programs that exist in this state. It’s quite an honor. But this doesn’t happen without the hard work and support of countless people, from our players to our administrators and our donors, and I thank them for all they’ve done for our program.”
Heppler has guided the Yellow Jackets’ program to every NCAA Regional since 1998, and 18 times to the NCAA Championship finals, where four of those teams advanced to match play. Now in his 27th year on The Flats, Heppler has guided teams to 13 ACC titles, most recently in 2019, and 67 tournament titles overall. Since 2000, Georgia Tech has finished outside the top 10 in national polls only four times.
Heppler has annually recruited and developed talented players from across the globe, and 14 of his players have competed on the PGA Tour, several of whom remain active today. Three of Heppler’s players – Matt Kuchar, Bryce Molder and Troy Matteson – have earned national player of the year honors, while 21 players have been named first-team All-America. The program has had at least two All-ACC honorees in 19 of the last 23 seasons and have had four members of the team honored four times, and five of Heppler’s players have been named ACC Player of the Year.
In addition, three of his Tech players – Kuchar in 1997, Andy Ogletree in 2019 and Tyler Strafaci in 2020 – have won the U.S. Amateur Championship. With Ogletree’s and Strafaci’s victories in 2019 and 2020, respectively, Georgia Tech became the first school to have teammates win the national title in back-to-back years.
In 2002, Heppler led his squad to the best season in school history as the Yellow Jackets won a record seven team titles and finished runner-up at the NCAA Championship. That year, Matteson became the third Georgia Tech player to win an individual national title.
Heppler has been recognized for his leadership many times over the years. Among the honors include the ACC Coach of the Year 10 times, more than any other ACC coach in conference history, as well as the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) National Coach of the Year in 2002. The GCAA inducted Heppler into its Hall of Fame in 2013, and he was named a Georgia Tech Honorary Alumnus in 2018.
A native of St. George, Utah, Heppler began his coaching career as the men’s and women’s golf coach at Amherst College in 1987 while pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Massachusetts. A year after graduating, he joined the staff at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) as assistant men’s golf coach (1989-91). Two years later he would make the move to Oklahoma State University as assistant men’s and women’s golf coach, where he would stay for five years (1991-95). In 1995, he moved to Atlanta with the opportunity to become the head men’s golf coach at Georgia Tech, where he has led the program to record-breaking heights ever since.