Tom Knecht, pioneering coach of Westmont College golf, announced that he will be stepping down from the position at the end of the school year.
Knecht started both the Warriors’ men’s and women’s programs during the 2019-20 school year. He said he will resign with mixed emotions.
“I’m very proud to be a part of helping to build a golf program from scratch,” he said. “I’m also very grateful to all the people who made this possible, from the administration to donors to the players and their parents.
“Although I will continue to be a part of Westmont athletics, I will miss my daily interaction with the wonderful players on the team.”
Knecht, a professor of political science at the college, recruited the entire men’s and women’s teams last year and coached them in eight tournaments. He also played host to the Westmont Invitational last February at Sandpiper Golf Course. His men’s team placed second out of seven teams.
His women’s team, meanwhile, won the five-team William Jessup Fall Invitational.
“We are indebted to Tom for the foundation he laid for the Westmont golf programs,” athletic director Dave Odell said. “Launching a new sports program requires many hours of hard work, especially in recruiting new students to come to Westmont to study and pursue their athletic passions.
“As a professor, Tom was able to share with recruits not only a love of golf, but also help them understand the academic opportunities available to them at Westmont.”
Knecht plans to continue providing academic support to Westmont’s athletes.
“During his time as golf coach, it became quickly apparent that coach Knecht was an amazing resource for our other coaches due to his role as a member of the faculty,” Odell said. “He also could uniquely understand and promote Westmont athletics due to his dual role as a coach and professor.
“I am excited that Tom will play a vital role in helping us secure the resources we need to continue our legacy as one of the elite small college athletic programs in the country. As a former athlete at Stanford, Tom understands what is required to sustain excellence in the classroom and on the playing field. He will be an invaluable resource for us on many levels.”
Westmont has already begun the search for a new head coach.
“It is important that we bring in someone who will help mentor our student-athletes as they grow and mature spiritually, socially, physically and academically during their Westmont careers,” Odell said. “We will take our time to find the right person to entrust with that responsibility.”
Knecht will next coach the Warriors at the Angeles National Golf Course in the Sea Beggars Invitational on Feb. 15-16.
“Our goal is to be the premier small college golf program in America,” he said. “Although I am pleased with our progress to date, we need a new coach to take us to the next level.
“I am confident we will find a Christ-centered coach who can teach the game of golf, but, most of all, will invest in the lives of our student-athletes.”