THE KELSON FILE
Born: Aug. 8, 1963
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minn.
Wife: Jinger Kelson
Lamar High School (Arlington, Texas)
University of Alabama, 1987 (B.S.)
University of Florida, 1992 (M.S)
- 1983-87 Oklahoma/Alabama
- 1983 Oklahoma State Amateur Champion
- 1983 Bermuda Amateur 3rd Place
- 1998-Present Tennessee, head coach
- 1992-98 Augusta State, head coach
- 1988-92 Florida, assistant coach
Jim Kelson has the Tennessee golf program climbing its way to national prominence.
The Vols already are a major contender. Last spring, Tennessee was one of just 12 programs in the country to qualify for its third consecutive NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship.
At the NCAA finals, UT has placed in the top 25 the last three seasons and six times overall, including a high of 12th in 2009. From 2009-2013 Tennessee is one of 16 Div 1 programs that advanced to the NCAA Finals four times during this time span. The current streak of three straight trips to the NCAA finals marks Tennessee's best run since the Vols advanced to three consecutive from 1995-97.
Since 2002, the Vols consistently have been ranked among the top 25 teams in the country. From 2007-09, Tennessee's average national ranking was 14th.
Kelson also has coached UT to 12 consecutive NCAA regionals, extending the school record, and a total of six NCAA finals since 2003.
The Vols have captured multiple tournament titles in three of the last five years and four of the last seven. Included was the 2007 SEC Championship, Tennessee's first league crown in 17 years.
Late-Season SurgeLast year, UT finished third at the SEC Championship as part of a late-season surge that saw the Vols playing their best golf when it mattered most.
But Kelson isn't settling for simply playing alongside the best programs in golf.
"We were proud of our team's efforts last post-season and their advancement to the finals, but we expect better than 24th place," Kelson said. "Our program must become significantly better and that is 100 percent my responsibility.
"We will continue to make improvements to ensure our program stays on the path of becoming one of the elite teams in the country."
UT was the No. 6 seed at the 2011 NCAA Indiana-Central Regional. Needing a top-five finish to advance to the NCAA finals, the Vols rallied from seventh place and eight strokes behind on the final day to claim a berth in Stillwater, Okla.
No. 1 RankingKelson's charges in the fall of 2009 captured the prestigious Carpet Capital Collegiate for the first time in school history and the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate in a scorecard playoff. Those early results pushed the Vols to No. 1 in the Golfstat.com rankings.
Kelson was hired in June 1998 has been building this program from the day he arrived on campus. The Vols have won 15 tournament championships in his 13-plus seasons. Five different campaigns produced multiple tourney titles -- 2001-02 (three), 2004-05 (three), 2006-07 (two), 2007-08 (two) and 2009-10 (two). UT also claimed hardware under Kelson in the 1998-99, 2000-01 and 2005-06 seasons. The Vols under Kelson own 44 top-three finishes.
One of the highlights was capturing the 2007 SEC Championship, Tennessee's first league crown in 17 years. At the event, UT finished with three players in the top-10, including two tied for second. Kelson claimed his first SEC Coach of the Year award.
Numerous AwardsThe Vols under Kelson have garnered 19 All-SEC honors and eight All-America selections. Four of his players have been named to the Palmer Cup competitions for collegiate golfers and five earned NCAA Division I Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar status.
Kelson, 48, hails from Dallas and graduated in 1987 with a bachelor's degree from the University of Alabama. He earned his master's in sports administration from the University of Florida in 1992.
Kelson's first head coach assignment was leading Augusta State's only Division I sport. He guided the Jaguars to four appearances in the NCAA Championship from 1993-96 and five appearances in the NCAA regionals.
His teams had 32 top-five finishes in 57 regular-season tournaments. Kelson also served as assistant athletics director for compliance while on the Jaguars staff.
Prior to Augusta State, Kelson was assistant coach at Florida under former U.S. Amateur champion Buddy Alexander. Kelson helped recruit several of the golfers who helped the Gators finish second at the 1993 NCAA Championships.
Kelson has worked with some of the most highly regarded teaching professionals in the world, including Conrad Rehling, Eddie Merrins, Bob Toski, Wally Armstrong, Chuck Cooke, Denis Pugh, Ernie Vaderson and Michael Shannon.
His achievements on the course include the 1983 Oklahoma State Amateur and a third-place finish at the Bermuda Amateur, in addition to competing in the 1982 U.S. Amateur.
Kelson lives in Knoxville with his wife, the former Jinger Fry of Arlington, Texas.