When it came time to replace longtime women’s golf coach Karen Bahnsen, who announced her retirement last month, LSU decided to keep the job in the family.
Garrett Runion, assistant coach since 2012 for LSU men’s golf, was named as Bahnsen’s successor, athletic director Joe Alleva announced Friday.
In addition, the school announced that men’s golf coach Chuck Winstead will take on added responsibilities as LSU’s Director of Golf.
“Coach Karen Bahnsen built something truly special here at LSU with the women’s golf program,” Alleva said in a university news release. “I know coach Runion and coach Winstead will build off of her incredible legacy and help continue to build both men’s and women’s golf into elite programs.”
Runion in April was named a finalist for collegiate golf’s Jan Strickland Outstanding Assistant Coach Award for the third year in a row. The school called him instrumental in helping the Tigers return to national prominence in men’s golf, with the Tigers finishing in the top-10 nationally four of the past five seasons including winning the 2015 NCAA championship.
Like Bahnsen and Winstead, Runion played at LSU, a three-time letterwinner and four-time member of the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll from 2003-08.
“I am extremely humbled and honored to be named the next head coach of the LSU women’s golf program,” Runion said in the release. “Having the chance to coach at my alma mater is very special to me and I look forward to building a program we can all be proud of. I want to thank Director of Athletics Joe Alleva and Chuck Winstead for giving me this great opportunity.”
Runion grew up in Orlando, Florida, where he often played at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge under the watchful eye of the golfing legend. In 2012, Runion coached Nova Southeastern, a school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to the NCAA Division II championship in his only season as head coach. He earned several awards, among them the Dave Williams Award as Division II coach of the year.
Runion becomes just the fourth women’s golf coach at LSU since the program began in 1979. Bahnsen coached LSU for 34 years beginning in 1984, making her the second-longest tenured coach in LSU history behind only gymnastics coach D-D Breaux (41 years).
Runion and his wife, Meghan, have a son Reid and a daughter Riley, the latter who was born May 26.
Winstead, who just completed his 13th season as LSU’s coach, will continue his duties with the men’s golf program but will also assume oversight of both programs. He is LSU’s winningest men’s golf coach, having led the 2015 Tigers to their first Southeastern Conference title since 1987 and their first NCAA championship since 1955.
“I want to thank Joe Alleva for the opportunity to lead in this new role,” Winstead said. “I also want to thank Karen Bahnsen for the foundation she built with the women’s program. Garrett and I are excited to build on that foundation and for what the future of LSU golf holds.”
Winstead’s place as one of golf’s top instructors is evidenced by his four players who won U.S. Open sectional qualifiers Monday: former Tiger Sam Burns and current LSU players Luis Gagne, Jacob Bergeron and Philip Barbaree. His son Trey is a rising sophomore, coming off a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team.
“Chuck is clearly one of the top instructors and coaches in golf today,” Alleva said. “He will do an outstanding job overseeing both programs.”