WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – With a career that includes winning a national championship in 2021, Zack Byrd has been named the new head coach for Purdue Women’s Golf. One of the top recruiters in the country, Byrd takes over the Boilermakers following the retirement of 25-year head coach Devon Brouse.
“We are excited to introduce Zack Byrd as our new Head Women’s Golf coach, and we look forward to welcoming him, his wife Alison and children, Payton and Avery, to West Lafayette,” said Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Mike Bobinski. “Through the search process, Coach Byrd’s focus, approach and energy for building a championship women’s golf program stood out to us, and we’re confident he’ll create a culture of success that will honor the proud tradition of Purdue Women’s Golf.”
Byrd spent the past four seasons at Ole Miss, serving as assistant coach before being elevated to associate head coach following the team’s 2021 national title. The Rebels captured the 2021 NCAA National Championship, the first ever by a women’s team in school history.
“I am elated to join the Purdue family and am grateful to Mike Bobinski, Tim House and Director of Golf Rob Bradley for this opportunity,” Byrd said. “After spending five minutes on the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex, you can see why Purdue has a prolific golf history. I look forward to carrying that rich tradition into the future. I’d also like to thank Kory Henkes for the guidance she has provided me during my time at Ole Miss. My family and I cannot wait to get to West Lafayette and join the Purdue family. Boiler Up!”
A well-known recruiter internationally, Byrd brought some of Europe’s best players to Ole Miss to turn the Rebels into a national powerhouse. Spending a decade as a professional golfer himself allowed Byrd to connect with players looking to reach the highest level of the sport.
“This was a tremendously competitive search featuring women and men who are sitting Division I head coaches and high-level assistants at some of the top programs in the country,” said Executive Senior Associate Athletics Director Tim House, the search chairman who serves as the administrator for Purdue Golf. “Coach Byrd’s passion for this particular opportunity, his documented success in recruiting and player development, and his proven ability to help a program win a national title are what set him apart. His wife Ali has been a professional golf instructor for the past 15 years. , so there is no doubt that the Byrds are a golf family. We are thrilled to welcome the entire Byrd family to West Lafayette, and we are looking forward to championships in the years to come.”
Byrd joined Ole Miss in the spring of 2019, making an immediate impact with the Rebels. Ole Miss progressed throughout the campaign, playing its best golf at the right time. Byrd and the Rebels captured the SEC Championship, the first conference title in program history. Throughout the championship, Byrd walked alongside Macy Somoskey, who played an astounding 63 holes during the match play portion of the tournament, resulting in three match-deciding victories. Ole Miss rode the momentum into the NCAA Norman Regional, playing well enough to advance to the NCAA Championships. The Rebels placed 14th on the national stage, a then-program best, ending a successful first season for Byrd in Oxford.
Building off year one, Byrd’s second season at Ole Miss featured four team tournament titles, another school record for a single season. He helped guide the Rebels to wins at the Golfweek Conference Challenge, Jim West Challenge, Battle at the Beach and the Moon Golf Invitational. The Jim West Challenge included a 19-under first round, the lowest team round in program history. Ole Miss led the conference in scoring average (284.22, 4-under par), and three Rebels earned All-SEC honors. Ole Miss finished the year with its best ranking in all major polls, at No. 11 in the WGCA Coaches Poll, No. 11 12 in Golfstat’s team rankings and No. 13 on Golfweek’s national rankings.
Byrd and the Rebels reached the mountaintop in 2021, one year after the 2020 championship season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the fall, Ole Miss won the East Lake Cup by defeating Texas and South Carolina to showcase the Rebels’ strength in match play. It was a preview of what was to come in the spring when the Rebels reached the NCAA Championships and qualified for match play that determines the national champion. Ole Miss took down Texas once again before rallying from behind to beat Arizona to earn a spot in the championship match. In the finals, the Rebels cruised past Oklahoma State 4-1 to win the first women’s national title in Ole Miss history.
Byrd coached Julia Johnson and Kennedy Swann, who both earned WGCA All-America honors at the end of the championship campaign. Johnson collected first team accolades, while Swann received honorable mention recognition.
Most recently, Byrd coached All-American Chiara Taburlini at last month’s NCAA Championships. He walked alongside Tamburlini for all 72 holes of the national championship, helping her manage the difficult Grayhawk Golf Club’s Raptor Course. Tamburlini not only made the cut, but she secured a top-10 finish by placing eighth.
Prior to venturing south to Mississippi, Byrd served as an assistant coach at Colorado State. He helped the Rams post their best fall three-round average (292.1) since 2011. Colorado State had four top-10 individual finishes in their four fall tournaments in 2018. The Rams won the Ron Moore Women’s Intercollegiate with a four-under 860, the second lowest three-round score in program history.
Before transitioning to coaching, Byrd spent 10 years as a professional golfer. Ending his playing career on South Africa’s Sunshine Tour, he finished 44th on the money list while making the cut at the 2018 BMW SA Open. Byrd gained full status for the 2018 campaign after finishing runner-up for Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year in 2017. That season, he posted a 70.98 stroke average with seven top-20 finishes and three top-10s. A second-place finish at the Investec Royal Swazi Open, that included a 63 in the final round, helped Byrd break into the Top-700 of the world rankings.
Byrd qualified for the Canadian PGA Tour in 2015 and also competed on the PGA’s China and Latin America tours. He held conditional status with the Web.com Tour in 2014, as well as the Nationwide Tour in 2012 and Web.com Tour in 2013 after again making the final stage of Q School.
Byrd began his pro career with numerous wins and top-10 finishes on mini tour circuits in the Southeast United States and nationwide in PGA sectional events. In 2011, he qualified and competed in the US Open at Congressional Country Club, while also making the final stage of the PGA Tour’s Q School.
Byrd is a 2009 graduate of Coastal Carolina University where he was a five-year member of the men’s golf team. As a freshman, he won the Big South Conference individual championship and was named Big South Freshman of the Year. During his time at Coastal, he helped lead the Chanticleers to three NCAA Championship berths alongside 2016 US Open Champion Dustin Johnson. Byrd posted his best season of collegiate golf as a senior, collecting Third Team All-America honors by PING and Golfweek. That same year, he was the Big South Player of the Year and Co-Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and he broke the school record for lowest round with a 9-under 63. Byrd was also a two-time GCAA All-America Scholar in his junior and senior seasons. In 2015, he was inducted in the Coastal Carolina Hall of Fame.
Joining Byrd in the move to West Lafayette is his wife, Alison, and their two daughters, Payton (6) and Avery (4).
What They’re Saying
“I’m extremely excited for Zack and his family as they embark on this new journey. He is a top-notch coach and recruiter, and I wish him all the best and look forward to following his success at Purdue.” – Kory Henkes, Ole Miss Head Women’s Golf Coach
“Zack was one of the main reasons I have a national championship ring. He worked his way to the top as an assistant coach, and I have no doubt he will do the same as a head coach. Purdue is lucky to have him!” – Kennedy Swann, 2021 National Champion, 2021 WGCA Honorable Mention All-American (Ole Miss, 2018-21)
“We are excited to introduce Zack Byrd as our new Head Women’s Golf coach, and we look forward to welcoming him, his wife Alison and children, Payton and Avery, to West Lafayette. Through the search process, Coach Byrd’s focus, approach and energy for building a championship women’s golf program stood out to us, and we’re confident he’ll create a culture of success that will honor the proud tradition of Purdue Women’s Golf.” – Mike BobinskiPurdue Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics
“This was a tremendously competitive search featuring women and men who are sitting Division I head coaches and high-level assistants at some of the top programs in the country. Coach Byrd’s passion for this particular opportunity, his documented success in recruiting and player development, and his proven ability to help a program win a national title are what set him apart. His wife Ali has been a professional golf instructor for the past 15 years, so there is no doubt that the Byrds are a golf family. Welcome the entire Byrd family to West Lafayette, and we are looking forward to championships in the years to come.”–Tim HousePurdue Executive Senior Associate Athletics Director/Purdue Golf Administrator