Entering her 12th season as head coach of the Green Wave women's golf program, Sue Bower is the dean of coaches at Tulane University, and perhaps no one person has had as dramatic of an effect on a program as Bower.
In 11 years in The Big Easy, Bower has helped transform the Green Wave that ranked 121st out of 122 NCAA Division I teams in 1992 into one that has made two consecutive trips to the NCAA Regionals, postseason trips in three of the last four years, and ended the 2003 fall campaign as the No. 18 team in the nation by Golfweek Magazine and No. 20 by Golfstat.com.
And her work has not gone unnoticed as Bower now sports nine coach-of-the-year trophies in her office, including 2003 hardware from the National Golf Coaches Association - which named her East Region Coach of the Year - the LPGA - which named her Central Division Coach of the Year - and the Louisiana Sportswriters Association.
Along the way, Bower has been instrumental in helping produce 12 All-Conference USA honorees, a three-time C-USA Player of the Year, a trio of league Freshmen of the Year, two Louisiana Players of the Year, four LSWA Freshmen of the Year, and Tulane's only National Golf Coaches Association All-American.
In each of the last two seasons, Bower's squads have set team records for stroke average, posting a 304.7 mark in 2001-02 before shattering the mark with a 299.4 average last year. Under Bower's direction, Tulane has won five team tournament championships, including three during the 2002-03 season, and nine individual titles.
Last season, a school-record four players earned All-Conference USA recognition, including first-teamers Liliana Alvarez, Lindsay Hulwick and Carolin Landmann and third-team honoree Alexis Wooster. Landmann became the first Tulane player since 1999 to earn Louisiana Player of the Year honors last season, and Alvarez was named both C-USA and LSWA Freshman of the Year.
While Bower's teams have been successful on the golf course, her teams have made their marks in the classroom as well. Her players have been named to the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll on 33 occasions, four received NGCA All-Scholar honors, two earned C-USA Women's Golf Scholar-Athlete of the Year acclaim, and one player twice earned GTE Regional Academic All-America honors.
Since Bower took over the program prior to the 1992-93 season, the Green Wave has shown steady improvement every season. It took just four years for Bower to lead Tulane into the Top 50 when her 1995-96 team finished 46th in the nation. Then, four years later, Bower helped the Green Wave finish third in Conference USA, rank 31st in the nation and earn the school's first trip to the NCAA East Regional.
In addition to its team participation in the postseason, Tulane was represented at the NCAA Regionals on an individual level from 1997-99, including two consecutive appearances by Pam Buff (1998-99) who was also named C-USA Player of the Year from 1998-2000, league Freshman of the Year in 1998 and Louisiana Athletic Directors Association Player of the Year in 1999.
One of Bower's greatest sources of pride, however, is the success of her players after they leave Tulane. Former student-athletes have gone on to achieve success in the fields of medicine, law, accounting, dentistry, golf administration, college coaching, marketing, broadcasting and nursing.
While she expects her team to succeed on both sides of the student-athlete equation, it is nothing that Bower has not already done herself. After a stellar prep career at Hanover High in New Hampshire where she excelled in field hockey, basketball and softball, Bower stayed close to home and attended Dartmouth College, where her athletic focus shifted to golf.
An avid golfer since the age of 10, Bower was a charter member of Dartmouth's women's golf team in 1981-82. During her four-year collegiate career, Bower won a pair of Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference titles and three New England Collegiate Championships. Bower capped her stay at Dartmouth by earning honorable-mention All-America honors in 1985, and was named a Rufus Choate Scholar, one of Dartmouth's highest academic awards.
After graduating with a degree in psychology, Bower played professionally for the next three years where she enjoyed considerable success on the mini-tours while earning a place in the finals of the LPGA qualifying school in 1988.
In 1989, Bower was named assistant golf professional at the San Jose Country Club where she earned her PGA and LPGA Class "A" credentials. While at SJCC, Bower continued to play top-caliber golf, winning several PGA and LPGA regional events and finishing in the Top 15 of the LPGA National Club Professional Division championship.
In the summer of 1993, Bower achieved a lifetime dream when she qualified to play in the U.S. Women's Open at Crooked Stick Country Club in Carmel, Ind.
The former Sue Johnson, Bower has been married to Andy Bower for 12 years, and they have one son, Will (7). The youngest Bower is already following in his mother's footsteps with baseball, soccer and golf topping his list of favorite sports.