CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UI Release) – University of Illinois head men’s golf coach Mike Small announced the hiring of former Fighting Illini standout Zach Barlow as the program’s new assistant coach Wednesday. A two-time All-Midwest Region selection, Barlow was part of Illinois’ Big Ten championship teams in 2009 and 2010.
“I’m pumped to be back in Champaign,” Barlow said. “When I was there, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m really looking forward to it. It sounds a little bit clichéd, but I miss Champaign. I’ll never be able to repay what it means to me, but it’s an honor to come back and work alongside coach Small. I think Coach Small is the best in the business and it’s a privilege to be able to learn from him.
“To keep this thing going – and it’s really going – I think we need to have a lot of attention to detail. We have to stay consistent because what Coach Small is doing is working, and not get too wrapped up in what we have done but look forward to what we still can do. Several years ago, I don’t think Illinois would’ve been talked about as competing for national championships, and that perception has changed. Everything is in place to be a contender year in and year out.”
A 2010 graduate of Illinois, Barlow spent the last year as a teaching professional at Kokopelli Golf Course in Marion, Illinois, while also playing professionally. He was active on the eGolf and NGA Tours, playing nine events in 2012 and competing in the first stage of PGA Tour Q-School. He also won the 2012 U.S. Open local qualifier in St. Louis. He also advanced out of the U.S. Open local qualifier in 2013 with a third-place finish.
“It’s great to have Zach back in the Illini program after a few years of playing professionally,” Small said. “I know he has been thinking about coaching for a while now, and the time is right for him to start a new chapter in his career. He was a very decorated collegiate player for us and he brings a mentality and work ethic that is second to none. We’re excited to get him into the fold and continue our quest of competing for national championships.”
Barlow lettered at Illinois from 2007-10 and finished his career with the eighth-best stroke average in school history at 74.06. He won the 2008 Illinois State Amateur, the 2008 Olympia Fields Country Club/Fighting Illini Invitational and the 2009 Marshall Invitational. He also advanced to the championship match of the 2009 Western Amateur, falling to John Hahn 3 & 2 but recording the best finish by an Illini golfer at the event. As a junior at Trico High School, Barlow won the 2003 IHSA Class A state title.
He was named a PING All-Midwest Region selection in 2009 and 2010, and was an All-Big Ten second-team pick in 2010. Barlow also was a member of the Illini Leadership Academy, both in the emerging leaders program as an underclassman and in the veteran leaders program as an upperclassman.