Stuart Deane called Arlington “home” after his introduction as the University of Texas at Arlington’s new golf coach. It sounded funny in his Australian accent, but it also made perfect sense.
Deane’s wife, Elizabeth, graduated from UTA; the couple live in Arlington with their two children, Sam and Lilly; and Deane has worked as a PGA teaching professional at Rolling Hills Country Club in north Arlington the past two years.
So after a national search determined three finalists, the Mavericks didn’t look far for their next head coach.
“He just was head and shoulders above everybody else,” UTA athletics director Jim Baker said. “…He’s got the ties in Arlington. He’s won on the tour. Everything that I want in a coach, he’s got. He’s a winner. He’s got passion. The more I got to know him and the more I was around him, I knew he was the right man to take this program.”
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Deane never aspired to be a golf coach. But thrown into the job, he figured out coaching was for him.
Deane acted as a volunteer assistant for the Mavericks, working with several current and former UTA student-athletes. But head coach Jay Rees resigned in January after 16 years at the school, and then interim coach Stuart Powell became ill.
Deane coached the team the last month of the season, including a second-place finish at the Sun Belt Championship.
“It was really just going from a stop to a full sprint in the space of four months,” Deane said. “It turned out to be a great learning curve to see how the college side of it worked, to see how the boys would respond, which they responded phenomenally.
“Some people say the best interview is doing the job, but it wasn’t really about me doing the interview, but seeing whether I liked it or not. That was what was really awesome was I got to do, and I got to like it. I was also essentially interviewing at the same time, so it was kind of a win-win for me and a really cool transition.”
Deane, 43, qualified for the PGA Championship last summer, finishing tied for 95th with a 4-over 146. He has played in 10 PGA Tour events and won the Trump Million Dollar Invitational in 2006.
Deane, a former Web.com tour player who also played professionally in Australia and Asia with more than 30 career victories, ranks seventh among PGA Membership in the U.S.
Deane’s resume gives him instant credibility, said UTA player Aaron Guanlao.
“With his experience, he can help us with many things,” said Guanlao, who finished tied for eighth at the Sun Belt Championship as a freshman this year. “A lot of it is the mental aspect of the game.”
Deane loses four seniors, but inherits three recruits, Gunner Cash, Michael Hodson and Camilo Avila. He likely won’t have his own recruits for two years.
But he has big plans for the program, which ended last season ranked 101st in the country.
“By the end of the  season, we should be top 50,” Deane said. “From there, long term, the goal would be to be sort of a mainstay in a top-40, top-30 style of program.
“Right now we’ve got really great players. We’ve got great kids. Now, we change the culture and the mentality of what the expectations are, where the bar is raised to. They’ve already responded by going from 168th to 101st, so to move that far in four or five events was awesome.”
Deane has improved the schedule, with No. 1 Illinois among the teams the Mavericks face next season. He envisions UTA getting its own practice facility.
In 2017-18, the school debuts a women’s program with Deane coaching that team, too.
“We haven’t added a women’s sport in 40 years, so we’ve been looking at our program,” Baker said. “We were looking at some other sports. But when there was a change at the golf coaching position, we decided to look at golf and now seemed to be the best time. We went in and did our research and what it would cost. We put a plan together to the president [Vistasp Karbhari], and he said, ‘Let’s go with it.’ The timing couldn’t have been any better.”
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760