Golf coach goes global to find success at alma mater
Coach Devon Brouse instructs Maude-Aimee LeBlanc, a senior from Quebec, on the green. In her junior year, LeBlanc was named first team All-American by Golfweek magazine and second team All-American by the National Golf Coaches Association. She also earned the Mary Fossum Award for the lowest stroke average in the Big Ten. (Photo provided by Purdue Athletics)
Devon Brouse knows a thing or two about golf. Now in his 13th season as the head coach of both the men's and women's golf teams at Purdue, Brouse spent 20 years as the head coach of the men's team at the University of North Carolina. Over the next two weekends, he will lead his Boilermakers into the Big Ten Championships.
The women's defending national championship team will begin its spring run with the conference tournament in Glencoe, Ill., this Friday (April 22). The men's team will host the Big Ten Championships on the Kampen Course of the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex starting the following Friday (April 29).
Brouse is one of the nation's few collegiate head coaches in charge of both the men's and women's programs. A Purdue agronomy alumnus (1971), he is hoping for strong showings at the conference, regional and national levels. As any good golf guide could tell you, he knows that good play -- sparked by a little luck -- could lead to collective low scores in the championship season.
"We've had a lot of good teams that didn't win the national championship," says Brouse, whose women's teams have won five Big Ten championships and finished in the top 10 in each of the last five NCAA championships. "We know we have to be a little lucky to repeat. We're just going to do the best we can at improving day-to-day and week-to-week. If we do that, performance will take care of itself."
Brouse expects his women to make another deep run through the championships, and he's looking for a breakthrough for the men. "On the men's side, we haven't been to the postseason in a couple of years. So that's our goal," he says. "Not only get to the postseason, but advance to the NCAA championship and, hopefully, the match play part of it. Having the Big Ten Championship on our home course here at Purdue is something that we're looking forward to."
Brouse says a home-course advantage is distinctly different from playing at home on baseball diamonds, football fields and basketball courts, which all offer essentially the same dimensions. From knowing the lay of the land to the breaks of the greens, the Purdue men should have an advantage in simply being more familiar with the physical field of competition.
Coming from a perennial top-10 program at North Carolina, Brouse knew the Indiana climate would be a liability. So to make both of his teams competitive through the years, he has played to Purdue's strong suits. "Purdue has great academics and is a global university," he says. "Golf is a global game, so why not reach out there globally and recruit the very best players from wherever we can find them?"
To that end Brouse has recruited a number of international athletes. It's a recruiting philosophy incorporating world-renowned academics in a diverse setting that has led to accolades all around. In addition to last year's national team championship, he coached Maria Hernandez to an individual NCAA championship in 2009, a first for both Purdue and the Big Ten. He has won five Big Ten Coach of the Year honors, including the last three, and was named the National Golf Coaches Association and Golfweek magazine's National Coach of the Year in 2006 and 2010.