FAYETTEVILLE – University of Arkansas assistant golf coach Shauna Estes was named interim head coach for the Lady Razorbacks as current coach Kelley Hester accepted the head coaching position at her alma mater, the University of Georgia, today.
Women’s Athletics Director Bev Lewis announced Estes’ interim status while the University conducts a search for a replacement for the former Lady Bulldog golf star Hester.
“Georgia is the only place I would have considered,” Hester said. “This is a bittersweet day for our family. Fayetteville is where our daughter was born, and this program has been like my baby. I am so proud of the progress we’ve made here the past seasons, and I’m anticipating that next season will be one of the best ever at Arkansas.”
The University’s third women’s golf coach, Hester had an immediate impact by putting Arkansas into the NCAA Regionals all five years of her tenure. Under Hester, Arkansas made two NCAA Championship appearances, garnered the highest in-season ranking in program history at No. 2 and this spring produced the NCAA national champion with Stacy Lewis.
“Kelley has done a wonderful job for us and we hate to see her leave,” Lewis said. “I think Razorback fans can understand that she is being called home. In any other situation, we would have done whatever it took to keep her at Arkansas.”
Born in Macon, Ga., Hester was a two-time team captain for the Lady Bulldogs during her four-year career at Georgia. Twice named all-SEC, she was a part of two SEC titles for Georgia and a fourth-place finish at the 1993 NCAA Championship. After a brief career on the FUTURES Tour and as a club pro, she was named head coach at hometown Mercer University for one year before returning to Georgia as a the assistant coach for three seasons.
“In my years here, I’ve been approached by several other universities, but returning to Georgia was the only place I would go,” Hester said. “This hasn’t been an easy decision.”
In the meantime, Arkansas turns to its veteran assistant coach in Estes to guide the program during the upcoming transition period. A four-time all-American and a two-time SEC Player of the Year, Estes was named the National Assistant Golf Coach of the Year by the National Golf Coaches Association last week and led the team during the majority of the past season with Hester on maternity leave.
“This has been a fantastic season at Arkansas, and I will leave here with great feelings for northwest Arkansas,” Hester said. “Trey (husband) and I thoroughly enjoyed our time here, and have embraced being Razorbacks.”
Hester is now a University graduate, earning her master’s degree in education during her years at Arkansas. Her Arkansas resume also includes several firsts for the Lady’Backs: first all-American, first-team all-SEC player, first LPGA tour exemption, first Honda Award nominee, and of course, first national champion.
She joined Arkansas after inaugurating the women’s golf program at Nevada-Las Vegas in 2001. She took over at Arkansas in 2002. Hester and her husband, fellow Georgia native Trey, recently had their first child, Elizabeth, in March.