Men's Golf Spotlight: Chris Whitten
Men's Golf Spotlight: Chris Whitten
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Chris Whitten is in his sixth season as the head coach and 11th overall with the U-M men's golf program. Prior to taking over the head coaching duties in 2011, Whitten spent five seasons under Andrew Sapp as an assistant coach.
In five seasons Whitten has guided the Wolverines to four NCAA postseason appearances -- two team and two individual. Following individual invitations for Matt Thompson (2012) and Chris O'Neill (2014), U-M made back-to-back team regional appearances in 2015 (7th) and 2016 (10th).
Despite U-M just missing out on advancing out of the 2015 Washington Regional as a team, true freshman Kyle Mueller closed his rookie campaign as the medalist runner-up and advanced to the NCAA Finals as an individual, tying for 94th.
In addition to the postseason successes, the Maize and Blue have collected 19 top-five team finishes with 15 top-three showings, highlighted by three team titles: 2014 Wolverine Intercollegiate (Sept. 6-7), 2014 Big Ten Match Play Championship (Feb. 14-15) and 2013 Detroit Golf Club Invitational (April 12).
Whitten has been instrumental in the development of All-Big Ten golfers Thompson (2012), O'Neill (2014) and Mueller (2015, '16). Nine Wolverines earned 17 total Academic All-Big Ten honors during his tenure, while Miguel Echavarria (2012) and O'Neill (2015) earn the prestigious Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) All-America Scholar accolade.
In addition to academic honors earned in the classroom, Thompson (2012), Brett McIntosh (2014), O'Neill (2014, '15, '16) and Mueller (2015, '16) each earned PING Division I All-Midwest team honors during Whitten's tenure.
During his time as an assistant coach with U-M, the Wolverines made four straight NCAA Regional appearances – winning the program's first team regional title in 2011 – and two NCAA Championship appearances. In 2009, the Wolverines closed sixth to advance to team match play, closing with a semifinalist finish. In 2011, U-M closed 10th, missing match play by just three shots.
In addition to his coaching duties, Whitten has been instrumental in the creation and administration of the Friends of Michigan Golf alumni program, the development of the Wolverine Golf School, as well as the designing and fundraising for U-M's new golf practice facility.
Before joining the Wolverine staff in May 2006, Whitten was an assistant golf professional at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. While there he focused primarily on membership instructional programs, clinics, and group lessons. He also assisted with tournament operations for over 90 summer golf events, including the University of Toledo’s Inverness Intercollegiate Invitational during the fall.
Prior to his work at Inverness, Whitten served as the first-ever assistant men’s golf coach at Notre Dame for two years (2003-05), helping the Fighting Irish win their first Big East Conference championship in over seven years during the 2003-04 season. In addition to his general assistant duties, he also helped oversee the program’s recruiting as well as establish the formation of the Irish Golf School in 2004. He also served as the assistant tournament director for the 2003 and 2004 Big East Men’s Golf Championships and the 2004 NCAA Central Regional Preview tournament.
As a graduate of Notre Dame in 2002, Whitten earned Notre Dame’s Varsity Monogram Award as well as the Knute Rockne Scholar Athlete Award in 2002. He helped Notre Dame to two runner-up finishes at the Big East Championships in 1999 and 2002. He graduated with a degree in English and was named a Cleveland Golf / GCAA All-America Scholar.
A native of Rockford, Mich., Whitten has been involved in golf all of his life. He is the son of Buddy Whitten, who was formerly the head golf professional at Blythefield Country Club (Belmont, Mich.) and the Director of Instruction at Pensacola Country Club (Pensacola, Fla.) as well as a member on the PGA Senior Tour in 1997 with Chris serving as his part-time caddy. Buddy was elected to the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame in 1993.
Recently inducted into the Rockford High School Athletic Hall of Fame, Whitten was voted Most Improved Golfer as a freshman and followed with team MVP honors as a sophomore. Over his final two seasons he was an All-Conference selection helped Rockford to team titles at the Kent County Invitational, regional and a third-place finish at the state finals.
Whitten and his wife, Dr. Amy (White) reside in Novi with their two children, Graham and Lucas. Amy, who currently works at Beaumont Hospital (Royal Oak, Mich.), is a 2006 graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School and completed a Maternal Fetal Medicine fellowship at Wayne State University & Perinatology Research Branch, NICHD/NIH/DHHS in 2012.
The Chris Whitten File
Born: September 29, 1979
Hometown: Rockford, Mich.
High School: Rockford High School, 1998
College: University of Notre Dame, 2002
Family: Married, wife: Amy (White); Children (2): Graham and Lucas
|2003-04||Notre Dame||Assistant Coach||1st||12th||-|
|2004-05||Notre Dame||Assistant Coach||1st||t-13th||-|
|2005-06||Did Not Coach||-||-||-||-|
|2011-12||Michigan||Head Coach||10th||NTS (Indy 1)||-|
|2013-14||Michigan||Head Coach||12th||NTS (Indy 2)||-|
|2014-15||Michigan||Head Coach||11th||7th||NTS (Indy 3)|
1: Matt Thompson, individual at the 2012 NCAA Central Regional (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
2: Chris O'Neill, individual at the 2014 NCAA Central Regional (Sugar Grove, Ill.)
3: Kyle Mueller, individual at the 2015 NCAA Finals (Bradenton, Fla.)