George Fox University’s search for a new men’s golf coach ended in its own backyard when Branden Thompson, the golf operations supervisor and head professional at the Chehalem Glenn Golf Course in Newberg, was named as the new head coach for the Bruins’ six-year-old program in the summer of 2013.
Thompson will enter his fifth season at the helm of the men's golf program for the 2017-18 season.
Last season (2016-17), the Bruins recorded the first tournament win in program history at the Whitman Invite by eight strokes. Alex Plusquellec earned medalist honors in the field of 52 players with a 76-68-144. The 68 he posted on the second day set a new George Fox school record for 4-under. The Bruins finished third at the NWC Fall Classic, fifth at the NWC Spring Classic and seventh at the NWC Championships. Alex Plusquellec and Mason Koch both earned All-NWC second team honors. The pair became just the third and fourth Bruins to earn a spot on the All-NWC team.
The Bruins continued to make progress in the 2015-16 season, as the Bruins placed fourth in the Northwest Conference Fall Classic, T-Fourth in the NWC Spring Classic and fifth in the NWC Championship. Zach Mode became the second player in program history to earn a spot on the All-NWC First Team list. The Bruins also shot a program best 292 at the PLU Invitational (Sept. 26, 2015), and followed that up with the second best score of 296 at the NWC Spring Classic.
In 2014-15, Thompson directed the Bruins to their highest finish in program history at the Northwest Conference Championship with a fourth place finish. Andrew Grove led the Bruins in the tournament and finished T-Sixth. He became the first men's golfer to be named on the All-NWC First Team list.
The 2013-14 season was met with baby steps, as Thompson started to mold and create a winning tradition. Growing pains were among the first year, but Thompson was able to lay the foundation for years to come.
Thompson, who will continue his work at Chehalem Glenn, replaced Matt Beck, who established the George Fox men's team in 2007 and directed the Bruins through the fall 2012 schedule. MaryJo McCloskey, the Bruins’ award-winning women’s golf coach, assumed the men’s duties on an interim basis for the remainder of the spring season, with volunteer assistance from Brent Wilson, the father of Bruin golfer Kyle Wilson.
Thompson has been at Chehalem Glenn since 2005. He also served as the head coach of the Newberg High School golf team from 2006-13, building the program virtually from scratch to a third-place finish in the Pacific Conference at the Class 6A level, Oregon’s highest, in 2013. He previously worked as the head golf professional at the Langdon Farms Golf Club in Aurora, Ore. (1997-2001), and for three years thereafter as an independent golf sales representative to accounts throughout the Pacific Northwest.
A native of Seaside, Ore., Thompson played golf for four years (1991-94) at Pacific University (Ore.), helping the Boxers to four straight appearances in the NAIA National Tournament. He was a two-time All-Northwest Conference player in 1992 and 1994, and was named to the NAIA All-District 2 Team in 1994. He graduated from Pacific in 1994 with a degree in business administration.
In explaining his decision to seek the George Fox position, Thompson said, “I love coaching and seeing kids get better, and I remember my own college playing days as one of the best times of my life. This was a good opportunity to move on in my coaching life to a higher level from high school.
“I have followed the George Fox program from a distance for several years with its presence at Chehalem Glenn, and have known MaryJo for a long time when she would bring her previous teams down to Langdon Farms. George Fox’s core values fit well with my own faith, and its commitment to athletic excellence is consistent with what I believe the college experience should be about.”
George Fox director of athletics Craig Taylor, in announcing the hiring of Thompson, commented, “Branden’s track record as a teacher and builder of golf programs speaks for itself. His familiarity with our golfers already and his designs for strengthening our program mean that the George Fox men’s golf program should be in good hands for quite a while. He is a welcome addition to our overall athletics department.”
McCloskey, who added additional duties as the George Fox director of golf operations to her responsibilities in the summer of 2013, added, “Branden and I have worked well together over the last several years as our teams have practiced at Chehalem Glenn. He is well-respected by all our players, and is passionate about taking the men's team to the next level. I am excited to have him on board.”
Thompson, a Class A member of the Professional Golfers Association, and his wife Christine have two sons: Palmer, age 10, and Jack, age seven, who are already avid golfers. He enjoys coaching youth league teams for the Chehalem Parks and Recreation District in his spare time.