Ferris State University brought back one of its own to lead the Bulldog men's and women's golf programs as former FSU standout Kyle Wittenbach was tabbed in August 2016 as the school's new head coach. He will embark on his third season at the helm in 2018-19.
In his first year, Wittenbach led the Ferris State men's golf team to a national quarterfinal appearance at the 2017 NCAA Division II Championships at Reunion Resort in Kissimmee, Fla. FSU placed seventh overall in stroke play at the national championships before being eliminated in quarterfinal action by eventual national champion Florida Southern. Ferris State was the only school outside of the state of Florida or South Carolina to finish among the top seven teams in the country in stroke play.
The Bulldogs made their 15th all-time national championships appearance and first berth since 2010 after earning runner-up honors at the 2017 NCAA Midwest/Central Super Regional in Axtell, Neb. Ferris State's NCAA Championship appearance streak in men's golf ranks as one of the longest active stretches in the country.
The national quarterfinal appearance capped off what was an exciting season for the Bulldogs under Wittenbach. The Bulldogs won four tournaments in the fall, earned a top 10 national ranking, claimed runner-up honors at the Super Regional Championship and placed a school-best seventh overall in stroke play at the national championships this season before earning a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight.
A 2012 Ferris State alum, Wittenbach had served as the head coach at fellow Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) member Northern Michigan University since 2014. He filled the void left by the departure of his collegiate coach and former FSU head coach Mike Mignano, who accepted another position as the youth program director for The First Tee of Northern Michigan.
Along with coaching both the men's and women's teams at Ferris State, Wittenbach also works closely with the school's Professional Golf Management (PGM) program and FSU's Katke Golf Course. Both Aaron Waltz, who serves as Ferris State's PGM Golf Management Director, along with Katke Golf Course Head Professional & Manger Ian Ziska actively participated in the search process with FSU Athletics.
During his tenure at Northern Michigan, Wittenbach guided the Wildcats to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1999 in his second campaign. The Wildcats, who placed in the top five overall at five different tournaments, were ranked as high as 14th in the country in the national GolfStat rankings during the 2015-16 season and achieved a number one regional ranking during the year.
Along with leading the NMU men's program for two years, Wittenbach also took over duties building a new women's program and was the PGA Teaching Professional at Marquette Golf Club. He organized and managed the operations of both NCAA Division II squads while also maintaining and building relationships with alumni, community members and supporters. His men's team posted a 3.24 overall cumulative grade point average this past campaign and has vaulted up more than 100 places in the GolfStat Rankings since his arrival.
Wittenbach began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant on the Bulldog staff under Mignano in 2012. He then played professionally on the eGolf Pro Tour in 2013 where he competed in a full schedule of 15 events before taking over the NMU program. During his time in Marquette, he also served as the Northern Michigan Junior Golf Camp instructor.
A Professional Golf Association (PGA) member, Wittenbach claimed the 2010 GLIAC individual title while helping FSU to the team championship during a memorable collegiate golf career. He also qualified as an individual for the 2012 NCAA Division II National Golf Championships and was a two-time Cleveland Golf/Srixon and Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) All-America Scholar-Athlete.
Wittenbach earned first-team All-GLIAC accolades in his collegiate career and was the squad's Most Valuable Player award winner in 2011. The four-year letterwinner also claimed GLIAC Commissioner's Award recognition and was both a Ferris State President's Academic Award recipient and a Dean's List honoree for the Bulldogs. He received his bachelor's degree as a Professional Golf Management program graduate from FSU in 2012.
A native of Lowell, Wittenbach completed PGA internships as a golf assistant at several prestigious clubs, including the Classic Club (Palm Desert, Calif.), Montreux Golf & Country Club (Reno, Nev.) and Tullymore Golf Resort (Stanwood, Mich.). His many duties in those roles included teaching a variety of students of all ages along with managerial and operational duties at the respective clubs. He also spent six years working as a member of the outside services staff at West Michigan's Pilgrim's Run Golf Club from 2004-09.
In addition to his various roles as a golf coach, Wittenbach has also been highly active attending teaching seminars across the country, including notable ones at locations such as Thousand Oaks, the Dave Kendall Academy, a Stack and Tilt Seminar filmed for The Golf Channel and more.