A golden age for Terry golf

Brian Harman at The Open Championship
Brian Harman celebrates his six stroke victory on the 18th hole green during the final round of The 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on July 23, 2023 in Hoylake, England. (Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Terry and golf go together like azaleas and Augusta National.

Look no further than the UGA Golf Course, where players recharge after rigorous practices in the plush Boyd Golf Center, named after the late former amateur standout and Georgia Golf Hall of Fame director David Boyd (BBA ’63). The course’s general manager? That would be another Terry alum, former pro Matt Peterson (BBA ’89).

Indeed, the college is historically well represented on the university’s men’s and women’s teams and at the professional level, with golfers such as Franklin Langham (BBA ’91) and Angela Jerman Ormsby (BBA ’02) dropping birdies while brimming with Bulldog pride.

Even so, there’s something special about the current crop of Terry Dawgs competing in the pros. At the time this issue of Terry magazine went to press, all five were listed among the top 125 players by the Official World Golf Ranking, with two in the top 25. Two won tournaments this year. Two others earned top 5 finishes. And, oh yeah — one of them is a defending major champion.

So, does a Terry degree automatically confer special powers on the putting green? Maybe not. But there’s ample reason to believe it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Brian Harman

Brian Harman (BBA ’11, Finance)

Official World Golf Ranking: No. 9 (October 2023)

Going into the 2023 British Open, Brian Harman knew he had a shot.

“I’ve always (believed) I could do something like this,” he said at the post-tournament press conference. “It’s just when it takes so much time, it’s hard not to let your mind falter, like, ‘Maybe I’m not winning again.’”

Indeed, it was six years since Harman’s last win — at the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship. But on the rolling links of the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Harman was electric. Charging into the final round with a five-stroke lead, he held his ground in gusty winds and driving rain to finish as the 2023 Open victor and become the second golfer who played under Georgia coach Chris Haack to win a major championship.

Harman’s first major win seemed to mark a new era of self-confidence for the charismatic leftie, who spent the summer racking up five top-15 finishes and earned the No. 23 FedEx Cup ranking at the end of the season.

It also brought newfound attention to a player who had previously flown well under the radar. 

“It’s a new experience, people recognizing me,” Harman said ahead of the St. Jude Championship in August. “I’ve always enjoyed going out to dinner when I’m on the road by myself … it’s probably going to be a minute before I get to enjoy that again.

“I will say,” he added with a smile, “life is better as a major champion than not.”

Brendon Todd

Brendon Todd (BBA ’07, Marketing)

Official World Golf Ranking: No. 59 (October 2023)

Following his first PGA win in 2014, Brendon Todd spent a few years wandering the golf wilderness before roaring back to take the top prize twice in the 2019-20 season. In 2022-23, he tallied six top-10 finishes, including the runner-up spot in July’s John Deere Classic.

That tenacity is a testament to Todd’s skill, preparation and confidence. “I didn’t have a backup plan leaving college,” he tells Terry magazine. “I don’t think that’s really possible to truly pursue pro golf.”

Todd says the bond between the UGA players in the pros transcends the typical working relationship. “Kevin Kisner and I used to sit in an MIST class and then cruise downtown to Gyro Wrap,” he says with a laugh. 

And on tour, it’s not uncommon to find a rental house full of Dawgs on any given week. “Me, Chris Kirk (BSEd ’08), Sepp Straka, maybe Greyson Sigg (BSEd ’22) stay together,” says Todd. “Kevin Kisner or Brian Harman might join us.

“We definitely inspire each other, whether we know it or not,” he adds. “We’re all trying to beat each other, but it’s a healthy competition.”

Sepp Straka

Sepp Straka (BBA ’15, Management)

Official World Golf Ranking: No. 23 (October 2023)

After securing his first win at the 2022 Honda Classic — and coming up just short in a playoff at the St. Jude Championship the same season — Sepp Straka continued to put up impressive numbers in 2022-23.

In fact, with six top-10 finishes and a win at the John Deere Classic in July — during which he shot an eye-popping 62 in the final round, setting a tournament record — Straka had arguably the most consistent season of any of the Terry College pros.

He also held the distinction of being part of both one-two Terry finishes, tying for second behind Harman at the Open Championship and just holding off Todd at the John Deere Classic.

“I had a really good season,” the Austrian-born Straka acknowledged during the St. Jude Championship. “It was pretty steady, especially the last few months. I’ve played some pretty good golf.”

Following his breakout year, Straka was rewarded by unlocking a new career milestone: In September, he was handpicked by captain Luke Donald to play for Team Europe in the 2023 Ryder Cup.

Kevin Kisner

Kevin Kisner (BBA ’06, Management)

Official World Golf Ranking: No. 109 (October 2023)

With four PGA Tour wins under his belt, including the 2021 Wyndham Championship, and two Presidents Cup selections, Kevin Kisner is no stranger to professional golf fortune. But he still says his proudest moment came in 2005 when he helped lead a loaded Bulldogs squad to a national title.

“I loved winning the national championship with my guys,” he says. “We spent so much time and worked so hard together to try to achieve that goal. And you don’t always get to achieve your goals, even when you work your tail off. Winning that was the ultimate success.”

And while Kisner is forever grateful pro golf panned out — “I never wanted to be an eight-to-five guy in an office,” he admits — he says his Terry degree continues to pay dividends as he navigates his dream career.

“We call ourselves self-employed, but I have five, six, seven employees I manage, what we would consider our team. And every week I have to formulate a plan, with their input, for how to best run my business and best ways for me to succeed.”

Keith Mitchell

Keith Mitchell (BBA ’14, Real Estate)

Official World Golf Ranking: No. 62 (October 2023)

Nicknamed “Cashmere Keith” due to his proclivity for rocking a stylish throwback look on the greens, Keith Mitchell’s creativity is not limited to his wardrobe.

“(My style) brings some personality back into my profession,” he told Hypebeast in August. “And that’s a lot of fun because golf’s a very creative game when you’re deciding what shot you’re gonna hit.”

Known for his long, accurate driving ability, Mitchell’s inventiveness on the course helped him secure a win in the 2019 Honda Classic, and this season he embarked on yet another solid campaign, earning five top-10 finishes.

And when he wasn’t climbing leaderboards, he was busy spreading the Bulldogs gospel, including to his Zurich Classic teammate Sungjae Im, a new Georgia resident.

“I taught him about Georgia football,” Mitchell told reporters who asked what the two players were learning about each other. “He’s the biggest Georgia fan (from) South Korea now.”