MENOMONIE — He will be continue to pilot a UW-Stout women's golf team that he has built into a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference power, but now long-time coach Howie Samb will expand his reach with the Blue Devils golf programs.
Samb has been given the title of Director of Golf at the NCAA Division III school, Stout athletic director Duey Naatz announced Thursday. The women's team will continue to be Samb's primary focus, as it has for the last 11 years, but his new role will give him a voice in recruiting, programming, skills and strategy for the men's program, too.
Stout will be launching a national search for a permanent men's golf coach in January. Former Blue Devils men's basketball coach Eddie Andrist has been serving in that role on an interim basis this semester following the resignation before the season of former coach Rob Robinson.
"My goal is to help in the recruiting process to rebuild the men's team to the prominence it held several years ago," Samb said in a statement. "I will help to identify talent for the men's program, as well as continue to coach the women's team."
The move is also aimed to further strengthen the bond between the school's competitive teams and its Golf Enterprise Management major. Samb is an instructor in the GEM program and is the program's summer co-op internship mentor.
"We are very fortunate to have someone with the experience and expertise that Howie brings to not only our women's golf team, but as a member of the faculty in the Golf Enterprise Management program," Naatz said in a statement. "We look forward to having Howie work with both programs."
In his 11 seasons with the women's program, Samb has been named the WIAC coach of the year seven times — in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017. His 2012, 2014 and 2016 teams won the WIAC tournament, earning the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Women's Golf Championships.
Samb was named the 2017-18 Women's Golf Coaches Association Central Region coach of the year.
The Blue Devil women's team finished second at the 2018 WIAC Championship and had three players earn all-conference honors. The Blue Devils finished the fall season ranked 22nd in the WGCA Coaches Poll and 24th in the GolfStat final fall poll.
Stout is one of just two WIAC schools to offer men's golf after many schools dropped their programs after the 1992-93 due to budget cuts and the WIAC ended its sponsorship of the sport. The Blue Devils, like UW-Eau Claire, instead compete for one of nine at-large berths to the NAA Division III Championship (including two that go to schools whose conferences do not receive automatic berths such as the WIAC).
Samb, a Spring Valley native and a UW-Stout graduate, spent 25 years serving as a head golf professional or general manager at three Minneapolis area golf clubs before returning to Stout to join the faculty in the GEM program.