PGA Professional and Head Coach Jay Hardwick is in his 31st season at Virginia Tech. During this time, Hardwick has developed the Hokie golf program into one that not only wins, but also does so the right way. Academic integrity, solid fundamentals and a sense of right are trademarks of this program. The Hokies don’t just win, they achieve.
With his attention to detail and the support of an outstanding group of boosters, he has brought Virginia Tech golf into national prominence. A look at Hardwick’s accomplishments the past 30 years shows just how successful he and his Hokies have been. His teams have finished in the top 10 of 260 tournaments and have won 35 tournaments, including a nation’s best six titles during the 2000-01 season. Under Hardwick’s direction, the Hokies have appeared in the past seven NCAA Division I Golf Regionals, and most recently qualified for the 2012 NCAA Championship at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Virginia Tech also had consecutive trips to the Regionals from 2001 to 2004, advancing to the NCAA Championship two of those years and finishing eighth in 2001. In total, Hardwick’s players have been to 13 NCAA Regionals and advanced to the NCAA Finals six times.
Since 1993, Hardwick has guided the Hokies to eight conference championships, becoming the only coach in NCAA history to have captured conference titles in four different leagues with the same school. His teams won back-to-back championships in the Metro Conference in 1993 and 1994, and again in the Atlantic 10 Conference in 1996 and 1997. Virginia Tech claimed the BIG EAST Conference Championship in 2001, its first season of competition in the league, duplicated the feat in 2002, and made it a three-peat in 2003, staging a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Notre Dame on the Irish’s home course, where the team overcame an 11-stroke deficit on the last three holes.
When the Virginia Tech community was rocked by the tragedy of April 16, 2007, Hardwick mourned with his players and then went about helping the community in the best way he knew how: he and his team of achievers captured one of the most improbable, but well-earned, ACC titles in any sport. His group of players, with tears in their eyes and a strong will, tied Georgia Tech for the 2007 ACC Golf Championship six days after the tragedy.
A tireless worker, Hardwick has taken on even more duties and responsibilities over the past eleven years. In January 2003, he was named Director of Golf Operations at Virginia Tech, a position that not only continues his stewardship over the Virginia Tech Golf Course, but also the Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech. Since 2004, when the Hokies joined the Atlantic Coast Conference, Hardwick has overseen a program to improve facilities and continue the quest to remain among the elite programs in collegiate golf. “The River” underwent a major renovation that year by renowned golf course architect Pete Dye. The renovation included a new state-of-the-art practice facility for the golf team and other amenities that afford Hokie golfers one of the finest team-oriented practice complexes in the nation. He has also built a solid financial foundation for the program, receiving 35 endowed scholarships over the past 27 years, which will allow numerous student-athletes to continue their careers at the collegiate level.
Never one to prize individual honors, Hardwick has nonetheless received many accolades that are testament to the mark he has left on collegiate golf and the golf world as a whole. In December, 2012 Hardwick was presented with the GCAA Service Award for outstanding service to Virginia Tech and the sport of golf for over 30 years. In 2007 he was inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America’s Hall of Fame. He received the award at the association’s annual banquet in Orlando, and sharing the dais with Hardwick and the two other inductees was golf legend Arnold Palmer, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the GCAA. Additionally, in 1994 Hardwick received one of his greatest honors when he was selected as the 11th inductee to the Virginia PGA Hall of Fame, making him the youngest member of this elite group.
He was named the inaugural recipient of the Labron Harris Sr., Award in 2005, given by E-Z-GO Textron, in association with the PGA of America. This award is presented to the college or high school coach and PGA Professional whose support of the game through teaching, coaching and involvement in the community has helped ensure the continued growth of the game and represent the finest qualities the game has to offer. He was also named the recipient of the Bill Strausbaugh Award presented by the Middle Atlantic PGA in 2005. This award bestows special recognition on a PGA member who has made significant contributions through mentoring of PGA Professionals and through involvement in community and charitable activities.
Hardwick was named the BIG EAST Conference Coach of the Year in 2001, 2002 and 2003. In 1996 and 1997 he was chosen the Atlantic 10 Conference Coach of the Year, and was also named Metro Conference Coach of the Year in 1992 and 1993. In addition, the coaching members of the Golf Coaches Association of America awarded him the NCAA Golf Coach of the Year for District 3-North for the 1993-94 season. He also received the inaugural Virginia Collegiate Coach of the Year award in 1993 and was selected for the same honor again in 1994, 2001 and 2013.
In the spirit of Virginia Tech’s motto “Ut Prosim” (that I may serve), Hardwick has always believed in giving back to the game and volunteering his time. He is a past vice president of the Virginia chapter of the Middle Atlantic PGA, having also served on the tournament rules and regulations committee, the membership committee, and the employment and club relations committee. He has been a head professional for 40 years and is a Class “A” Member, Quarter Century Club Member and Life Member of the PGA of America. Hardwick’s experience is well suited to his current role as a liaison between the GCAA and PGA of America.
Hardwick was elected president of the BIG EAST Golf Coaches Association for the 2003-04 season and served on the NCAA Golf District Advisory Committee for three years from 1994 to 1997, becoming chairman of District III-North in his last year on the panel. He also was a member of the GCAA Wilson Coaches Top 25 Poll and the Golf Digest Collegiate Poll and served on the All-Region Committee. Hardwick has twice been selected by the NCAA to serve as an instructor at the Youth Education through Sports (YES) golf clinic, which is held at the site of the NCAA Golf Championship. He conducted a clinic in 1990 at Innisbrook, Fla., and again in 1996 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Hardwick has been an instructor at the Championship Coaches Golf School since 1986. During this time he has taught at 74 golf schools.
In 2001 he was an instructor at the Hall of Fame Teaching and Coaching Seminar at Walt Disney World Golf Resort, one of only six coaches selected to present at the two-day seminar prior to the GCAA annual convention and PGA Merchandise Show. Norwegian Cruise Lines selected Hardwick to serve as the golf coordinator in their 1991 NFL/PGA Instruction Program. He conducted golf clinics on the five southern Caribbean Islands of Barbados, Martinique, St. Maarten, Antigua and St. Thomas.
In the summer of 1992, Hardwick was chosen to coach Team USA at the World Junior Team Championship, held in Izumo City, Japan. It marked the first time the United States had officially sponsored a junior team in international competition. Team USA won the gold medal in the 12-team tournament and four of Team USA’s players placed in the top 10, including Justin Roof of Conway, S.C., who captured the individual title.
An excellent teacher of the game, Hardwick has compiled an impressive list of playing accomplishments as well. In the fall of 2009, less than a year after reconstructive shoulder surgery, he achieved perhaps the most impressive feat of his playing career by winning the State Senior Open of Virginia. In 1995 he won the Middle Atlantic PGA Head Professional Championship by one shot after he birdied the last five holes. That year, he also won the Bobby Jones/Homestead Invitational at the Lower and Upper Cascades with rounds of 68-65 for a seven-shot victory. In addition, he was named a member of the PGA Challenge Cup Team for 1995, 1996 and 1997. He qualified for the National PGA Club Professional Championship in 1978, 1988 and 1992 and was selected by the PGA as a member of the Yamaha Cup team in 1988. He won the 1981 Spalding International Professional Championship in Castle Harbour, Bermuda, and was low pro in the Virginia PGA State Open in 1976.
In both 1989 and 1992, Hardwick compiled a 72.5 competitive stroke average and was a member of the 1989 winning team in the PGA/VSGA team matches. Hardwick also holds five course records, two tournament records and has twice shot 29 in competition.
A Narrows, Va., native, Hardwick played collegiate golf for the same team he now coaches. During his four-year playing career at Tech, the Hokies posted a 64-9 match play record and won three straight state intercollegiate championships. Hardwick was a four-year letterman for Tech and captain of the 1971 squad that claimed the state crown.
After graduating in 1971 with a degree in business administration, Hardwick turned pro and played for a year on the Florida winter tour. In 1973 he became the head professional at Giles Country Club in Pearisburg, Va., where he developed an outstanding junior golf program. He held that position for 10 years before returning to his alma mater. Upon his departure, the club members presented him and his family with a lifetime membership.
Hardwick, who officiated high school and college basketball for 25 years, retired from the sport in 1997 after working more than 1,000 games.He is married to the former Celia Martin of Pembroke, Va. The couple has a son Cris, daughter-in-law Melissa and grandsons Jacob Dylan and Aiden Thomas, who reside in Fredericksburg.