OSU Department of Athletics
It had been 36 years since the Ohio State men’s golf team introduced a new head coach. With the retirement of legendary coach Jim Brown, however, the program has ushered in its new leader, Donnie Darr.
Darr, an Ohio native and all-conference golfer during his college career at Kent State, spent time coaching Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Akron and his alma mater prior to coming to Columbus. He is only the tenth head coach in the program’s history and his hiring has served as a homecoming of sorts.
“This is a huge opportunity for me,” Darr said. “To come home and coach Ohio State is my dream job, and not many people get to experience their dream job.”
For Darr, a father of four, the job represents more than just career advancement.
“More than anything, it’s great for my family,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to raise my kids near family.”
Darr’s job comes with great responsibility and, perhaps more importantly, some big shoes to fill. His predecessor, Jim Brown, who had been the head coach since 1973, left as the most tenured coach in the program’s 88-year history.
“Anytime you follow someone so great it’s tough,” Darr said. “But you can’t worry about it too much. I try not to get caught up in all of that. The key is to respect the history and the tradition, but to move on, work hard, and just do the best you can.”
In a program that has been absent of change for so long, the entrance of a new head coach has brought drastic difference to the team. For Brad Wright, a senior and a team captain, the differences have not gone unnoticed.
“[Brown and Darr] are 100 percent opposites,” Wright said, “Not to say one is better than the other, but they are certainly very different.”
Wright began his college career in Akron where Darr was coaching at the time. Prior to the 2007 season, when Darr left for Oklahoma State, Wright made the decision to transfer to Ohio State. He then redshirted the season because of an NCAA rule regarding transfers, and played one year under Brown before being reunited with Darr.
“I was thrilled when coach Darr got the job,” Wright said, “He is in my opinion, if not the best, one of the best coaches in the country. I couldn’t have scripted it any better. To begin and end my career with coach Darr is great.”
Wright points to Darr’s motivation abilities as his biggest asset as head coach.
“Coach Darr is the most competitive person I’ve ever met and, as a team, we feed off that,” he said, “He finds a way to always get the most out of his players and teaches them to carry themselves as champions on and off the course.”
Wright, who played in every round of the 2008-2009 season, had a very important role on last year’s team that qualified for the NCAA championships. Following last season’s success, Wright has high expectations for this team and it all begins with his coach.
“We hope to win the Big Ten without a doubt,” Wright said, “Coach Darr will be such a huge asset for us and, talent-wise, there isn’t a team in the conference that will be any better than us.”
As for Darr, he says he’s thinking more “big picture” with his goals, but he’s certainly expecting success and hopes to put his stamp on the program.
“I don’t think we need some big list of goals,” Darr said. “We just need to do the right things and recruit the right kids. We want good students, good players, guys who love Ohio State and, most importantly, have a passion for the game of golf.”
If the track record of head coaches is any indication, Darr will certainly have plenty of time to make his mark on the program.