Walter Chun is in his 18th season associated with the Cal men’s golf program in 2015-16, his 12th campaign on the Golden Bears’ coaching staff and his seventh as associate head coach. Cal reached the NCAA Championship in each of his first five campaigns in his current role after a previous five-year absence. Chun was promoted to the position he now holds in September of 2009 after five seasons as an assistant coach. He was also an administrative assistant for the program for two seasons (2002-04) including the team’s lone national title in 2003-04.
“Walter and I are in this together,” head coach Steve Desimone said. “We talk constantly about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. We’re always looking to find ways to improve and be a better team. What one of us doesn’t think of the other one does. That’s how a good team and a good staff work. He’s been a tremendous asset, ally and friend. I could never say enough good things about Walter.”
Chun was instrumental in the accomplishments achieved during the golden era of the program from 2009-14 and also in the team’s recruiting efforts to begin restocking the roster with highly-ranked groups the past two signing classes in addition to player development.
The first of those two groups arrived at Cal for the 2014-15 and played a major role in the beginning of a new era of Cal men’s golf. Three true freshmen – Sebastian Crampton, Ben Doyle and KK Limbhasut – saw extensive action for a team that established a new school record with its ninth straight NCAA Regional appearance. Cal came up just short of a sixth straight trip to the NCAA Championship when they finished seventh one shot out of a playoff for the fifth and final qualifying spot at the NCAA Lubbock Regional but did win four times (Windon Memorial, Alister MacKenzie Invitational, John A. Burns Intercollegiate, National Invitational Tournament) for the fourth-highest win total in school history and extended their school-record string of three or more victories in a season to six. Cal also spent most of the season ranked in the top 25, finishing No. 24 (Golfstat) and No. 26 (Bushnell Golfweek, Golfweek/Sagarin) despite a roster with no seniors. Tanner Hughes is the other member of the 2014-15 season’s class and redshirted in his first campaign at Cal in 2014-15 but had tremendous amateur success during the 2014 calendar year, becoming the first player to ever win both the Christmas Classic and Tour Championship presented by Callaway Golf in the same season. Hughes was named the AmateurGolf.com Player of the Year.
Limbhasut was a huge part of the successful equation in 2014-15 and certainly had the hot hand down the stretch, finishing tied for fourth at the NCAA Lubbock Regional and tied for sixth at the Pac-12 Championship to equal the best showing ever by a Cal freshman at both events and also become only the third player in school history to finish in the top 10 at both. Limbhasut finished his first campaign at Cal with five top-five showings, six in the top 10 and eight in the top 15 to lead Cal in all three categories. The honorable mention All-Pac-12, Pac-12 All-Freshman team and Cal Newcomer of the Year selection also led the Bears with a 71.58 stroke average and was the only Cal player to participate in each of the team’s 13 events and 40 rounds. Crampton earned honorable mention Pac-12 All-Freshman and finished third on the team with a 72.18 stroke average, while placing in the top 10 on five occasions and adding a tied for 14th place finish at the NCAA Lubbock Regional. Doyle played in eight of 13 events including a career-best tied for sixth showing at the Arizona Intercollegiate. Limbhasut (No. 78 Golfstat, No. 94 Golfweek/Sagarin) finished the season ranked among the nation’s top 100 by both Golfstat (No. 78) and Golfweek/Sagarin (No. 94).
Chun also worked with Desimone to land four more players – Jamie Cheatham, Collin Morikawa, Alex Park and Sean Yu – in a signing class that will arrive at Cal in August of 2015. Morikawa highlights the class with his AJGA First-Team Rolex All-American SCPGA Curtis Cup Player of the Year selections in 2013 and his pair of Wyndham Cup appearances for the West team in a winning effort in 2013 and a match that ended in a tie in 2014.
The last two recruiting classes join a long list of players Chun has helped recruit and develop with several turning into top-notch golfers including Brandon Hagy (All-America Scholar, All-Nicklaus Team, The Ben Hogan Award Semifinalist, Byron Nelson Trophy, first-team Academic All-American®, first-team All-American, Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Palmer Cup), Stephen Hale (All-America Scholar, All-Pac-10), Max Homa (first-team All-American, NCAA Champion, Pac-12 Champion, U.S. Open, Walker Cup), Michael Kim (All-Nicklaus Team, first-team All-American, Palmer Cup, Unanimous National Player of the Year, U.S. Open, Walker Cup), Eric Mina (All-American, Pac-10 Champion), Joël Stalter (All-America Scholar, All-Nicklaus Team, first-team All-American, Palmer Cup) and Michael Weaver (All-America Scholar, first-team All-American, Masters, Palmer Cup, Walker Cup). He also recruited Ben An (Byeong-Hun An) after he became the youngest champion in the history of the U.S. Amateur at the age of 17 in 2009.
“Walter has really good interpersonal skills, and has great instincts and connects with young people,” Desimone said. “With Walter you know you will get as genuine of a human being as you will ever find, which I think relates very well to young people and their parents. He’s bright, articulate and a great representative of our program and the University of California.”
Chun also played a huge role in the golden era that came to an end following the 2013-14 campaign when four of the team’s five players at the 2014 NCAA Championship finished their collegiate careers but not before the Bears extended their school-record run of consecutive appearances at the event to five seasons. The accomplishments of the last three teams of the era were unprecedented not only at Cal but on a national level as the Bears won 24 of 40 stroke-play events and were in the top five on 38 occasions as well as each of its four match-play tournaments during the period. The final stretch of the era also included two appearances in the national semifinals (2012, 2013), a single-season NCAA record 12 stroke-play victories in 2012-13 when the Bears were widely thought to have recorded the best season in the history of college golf, and both the first two NCAA Regional and Pac-12 titles in school history (2012, 2013). Cal spent nearly the entire 2012-13 season as the nation’s top-ranked team and despite a second straight defeat in the semifinals of the NCAA Championship, remained No. 1 in all three final national polls with both the Golfweek/Sagarin and Golfstat rankings released following the NCAA Championship and the Golf World/Nike Golf poll prior to the event.
The Bears had several firsts in 2011-12, including an NCAA Championship match-play victory over San Diego State in the quarterfinals, a trip to match play at the NCAA Championship, NCAA Regional and Pac-12 titles, a then-school-record six victories, and top-five finishes in all 12 stroke-play events and 15 tournaments overall.
Chun has also been recognized nationally for his coaching exploits. He was honored with the Jan Strickland Award as the nation’s top assistant coach for his work during the 2007-08 season. In June of 2009, he served as a Team USA assistant coach for the Palmer Cup.
Chun began his affiliation with Cal in 1997 as a player for the Bears and was a two-time team captain while competing on three occasions at the NCAA West Regional (2000-02) and once at the NCAA Championship (2000). Chun also qualified for two U.S. Amateur Championships, the first in 1999 at Pebble Beach and the second in 2002 at Oakland Hills Country Club.
Chun received a pair of degrees at Cal with his bachelor’s degree from the Haas School of Business in 2001 and his master’s from the Graduate School of Education in 2003. He was a three-time Pac-10 All-Academic selection (2000, 2001, 2002) and a two-time All-America Scholar (2001, 2002).
He and his wife, Grace, live in San Ramon along with their son, William. His parents, Won Pyo and Yong Soon, live in Memphis, Tenn., while his older brother Charles resides in Emeryville.
May 20, 2015