Greg Sands has taken the Texas Tech golfing community by storm. In five seasons as head coach of the Red Raider program, Sands has taken a good program and made it better.
There are five NCAA regional and two NCAA Championships appearances, a top ten national ranking and the program's first PING All-America First Team honoree. Those are the most visible of the accomplishments Sands has been responsible for since taking over the program in 2001. What falls beneath the radar is Sands' ability to provide his student-athletes with an outstanding education, reflected in the program's 100 graduation rate during his tenure. The team consistently ranks among the top academic programs in the Big 12 Conference.
The 2006 season proved to be one of the more successful in school history as Sands guided the team to an unprecedented two tournament wins and nine top five finishes. Additionally, junior sensation Oscar Floren closed last season with a No. 7 national ranking and PING All-America First Team honors. Floren totaled an unprecedented three individual titles, while senior Andrew Dresser added one.
The two NCAA Championship appearances, in 2002 and 2006, mark the fifth and sixth times that a Tech team has advanced beyond the regional round and competed for a national championship. Prior to qualifying for the 2002 event in Columbus, Ohio, the last Red Raider team to compete at that level was the 1976 squad. Although the Red Raider haven't won the coveted trophy, their path to these tournaments has been impressive.
Of the five-straight NCAA regional appearances, the West regional in 2002 ranks as the most dramatic. Then-senior Kyle Willmann stared down a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole in a playoff with San Diego State for the final qualifying spot in the championships. In a must-make situation, Willmann drained the putt, ending a 26-year hiatus for the program in championship competition.
The Red Raiders fell short in three other appearances, before dominating the field at the 2006 East regional in Orlando, Fla. With 10 spots up for grabs, Tech positioned itself on the first day as one of the tournament's top five teams and didn't waver during the three-round event. The Red Raiders shot 9-over par for the event to finish in third place.
Sands' ability to coach and assist his players in pressure situations was evident in 2002 and again in 2006. With a senior, a junior and three freshmen comprising the 2006 squad, the team overcoming the proverbial youth and inexperience factor reflected Sands' ability as not only a golf coach, but a thinking coach as well.
In his five seasons as head coach, Sands has led the team to five tournament titles. Consistently, his players have broken records and established themselves on the Texas Tech charts.
In 2005, Sands brought the Texas Tech program to a new standard as the Red Raiders reached the top-25 in the polls for the first time in 26 years. The Raiders reached as high as 17th in the nation and never were ranked below 34th the duration of the season.
A native of Jacksonville, Texas, Sands was a member of the back-to-back Western Athletic Conference championship teams in 1997 and 1998 at TCU. He also was named Academic All-WAC Scholar-Athlete during the 1995-96 seasons.
Sands graduated from TCU in 1997 with an undergraduate degree in communications, along with a history minor. Sands' playing resume includes winning the Texas Collegiate Championships (Waterwood National in 1997) and co-champion of the Crown Colony Intercollegiate in 1997.
Sands was an All-Region player at Jacksonville High School and led his team to a third-place finish at the 4A State Championships in 1992. Sands and his wife, Stephanie, have a son, Caden, and a daughter, Reese.
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