Buddy Alexander, the men's golf coach at the University of Florida for 27 seasons, will retire at the end of the current campaign, he said on Tuesday. The Gators are playing the Southeastern Conference tournament this week, and there has been no indication of who might replace him in one of the nation's top college golf jobs.
"Coaching is a young man's game and it is simply time for me to turn the reins over to someone else," Alexander said.
Alexander, 61, led the Gators to NCAA national championships in 1993 and 2001, and eight Southeastern Conference titles. More than 30 of his players have gone to on the PGA Tour, among them event winners Billy Horschel, Matt Every, Chris DiMarco, Dudley Hart and Camilo Villegas.
"I can honestly say that I would not be in the position I'm in" without Alexander's guidance, Horschel said on Twitter, adding that Alexander was "the greatest college golf coach ever." It is "sad to see him retire but I will always seek out his advice."
"Proud to call him coach and now friend," added Will Strickler. "One of the best ever."
He became the head coach at Georgia Southern just two years after graduation, and coached the men's and women's golf teams at LSU from 1983 to 1987, winnng SEC team titles in 1986 and 1987 while two of his players won SEC individual titles. He took over at Florida in January of 1988, and the Gators won the SEC crown in 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2003 and 2011.
In all, Alexander's teams finished in the top 10 in the NCAAs 15 times, and racked up 72 tournament victories, and 31 of his players have earned All-America honors. He has been named the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) National Coach of the Year three times (1993, 2001 and 2004), and the SEC Coach of the Year seven times (1986, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2003 and 2004). He was inducted into the GCAA Coaches Hall of Fame in 2001.
"He's one of the all-time greats," said Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley. "He's had a heck of a run. There's no better Gator than Buddy Alexander."