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Longtime Gainesville boys golf coach Bryson Worley leaving school to run UNG golf program
Two-time state championship coach to become Nighthawks' director of golf and head men’s golf coach
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Bryson Worley - photo by The Times

Bryson Worley always believed he could have two dream jobs.

He has held the first one for the last 15 years, helping the Gainesville High boys golf team win a pair of state titles and contend for several others. The second one, an aspiration to coach at the college level, was always just a matter of the right situation presenting itself.

That finally happened, and now Worley is beginning the transition from one dream job to the other.

The University of North Georgia announced Thursday, June 6, that Worley will become its new director of golf and head men’s golf coach, a role the longtime Red Elephant considered too good to pass up.

“I’m fortunate that I’ve had a chance to have two dream jobs,” said Worley, who is also leaving his posts as Gainesville’s assistant principal and assistant athletic director. “Everything about Gainesville has been phenomenal, and for this one, the timing was right. 

“I didn’t know if I’d get this opportunity again, so we’ll see what I can do with it.”

Worley, who resides in North Hall, said he was swayed by the university’s proximity to his home, facilities and “off-the-charts” potential for its golf program. 

He’ll also get another chance to coach his son Hunter, one of four Gainesville graduates who’ll be on the Nighthawks squad next season — Lawson King is a rising senior, while Ryan Hogan and Davis Weaver are part of this year’s recruiting class.

But Worley’s responsibilities will extend far beyond just coaching the men’s team. Though women’s coach Leigh Ann Hunter will retain her position, Worley’s title as director of golf requires him to oversee the large-scale operations of both programs.

“It’s a trend in college golf for Division I programs, but I think it’s a bit unprecedented in Division II,” he said. “It’s to unify the programs and provide a figurehead over both. From fundraising to booster clubs to community relations, we’re unifying the experience for both the men and women and making sure we do all we can do.”

Coincidentally, the Red Elephants are using the same management method to fill Worley’s void.

Gainesville athletic director Adam Lindsey said girls coach Clay McDonald will become director of golf and supervise both the boys and girls teams. Lindsey also plans to hire another coach to aid longtime assistant Kevin Brown.

Worley, who had a say in the Red Elephants’ succession plan, expressed confidence in the staff’s ability to carry on the strong tradition of Gainesville golf.

“I wouldn’t have considered (the new job) if I knew Gainesville wasn’t in good hands,” Worley said. “We have the best coaching staff anywhere, top to bottom, boys and girls. ... That made me really comfortable, knowing there will be continuity there.”

His successors have a good starting point, especially after the Red Elephants captured third place at the Class 6A state championship meet in May.

It was one of 131 top-five finishes for Gainesville under Worley, who molded 51 all-state honorees, 26 college players and four professionals. His teams won 10 region titles and captured back-to-back state championships in 2012 and 2013, seasons that earned him Coach of the Year recognition from the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association.

“We’ve had a good run,” Worley said.

It will officially end when Worley assumes his post with North Georgia on July 2. But just because Worley is moving on to another dream job doesn’t mean he’s totally forgetting his first one.

“I’m proud of what we accomplished at Gainesville, and I’m still a Red Elephant,” Worley said. “I can’t say enough about how much I love Gainesville High School and the connections I made there. 

“I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be at events. My daughter is there, and my wife still teaches there. It’s a special place, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to coach at a place I think can.”

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