Large crowd honors Phillip Hatchett at golf facility dedication
By Jim Turner

Posted on February 22, 2020 8:26 PM

Western Kentucky University Athletics paid tribute to a late Russellvillian Friday for a life well lived.

WKU Men’s and Women’s Golf dedicated their new indoor 4,000 square-foot practice facility to the late Hilltopper head coach Phillip Hatchett on Friday afternoon.

After playing golf at WKU from 1980-82, Coach Hatchett took the reigns as the first full-time head coach of the men’s program in 2010. As the golf grew in the Hilltopper Athletics landscape, building an indoor practice facility was a dream of Hatchett’s, and a long-term goal. When Hatchett passed away in June 2018, dedicating the facility in his honor seemed only right.

“It means a lot to have this building named after Phillip, as I’ve known him since high school,” said current women’s golf head coach Adam Gary. “Just the reputation, and obviously the history he had playing here, the community, everybody loved him. Having his name on the building will make sure that his legacy continues on and that golf is going to have a place in town and continue to grow. I know that’s what he would’ve wanted.”

Many current or former Logan Countians were present for the ceremony, including Phillip’s widow Beth; one of his high school coaches, Ken Barrett (and wife Emily); his college coach, Jim Richards; Morris Kisselbaugh, one of Hatchett’s fellow bicycle riders who was seriously injured when Coach Hatchett was killed on U.S. 68-80 west of Russellville on a summer Sunday morning in June 2018; and Logan Aluminum co-founder Fred Mudge.

The most emotional comments of the ceremony came from the Lady Toppers’ captain, senior Mary Joiner of Franklin, the most successful golfer in Western women’s golf history. She started her golf career taking lessons from Phillip Hatchett at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Russellville when she was 8 or 9 years old. She talked about the life and character lessons she learned from him over the years.

Joiner had difficulty talking because of her tears flowing and her voice breaking. Her mother later told The LoJo that this was the first time Mary had said Phillip’s name aloud since his tragic death.

Standing on the edge of WKU’s South Campus at the Campbell Lane entrance to the Knicely Center, the new facility houses equipment and technology that will help WKU golfers develop for years to come. The name Phillip Hatchett Golf Facility is clearly visible from the highly traveled street in big red letters with the WKU red towel above it. Several pictures showing him coaching and counseling grace the interior walls.

Each WKU golf program has its own hitting bay, equipped with launch monitors. The systems replicate famous courses as a tracking device simulates the actual flight pattern of the ball.

A light projection system floods a large putting green in the main room, tracing slope and break lines across the surface. The PuttView system found in the Phillip Hatchett Golf Facility is one of very few in the country belonging to collegiate programs. Off the putting green, there are more spaces for chipping and hitting, in addition to a club regripping station and a loft alignment machine, allowing for quality work and repair outside of the traditional golf course setting.

“We have a place where we can get some quality work in, 12 months out of the year, regardless of the weather, regardless of the time of day” current men’s golf head coach Chan Metts said on the facility. “Even when the sun goes down, and we’re one of those rare daylight sports where we’re kind of dependent on sunshine to be able to play our sport, we can come get quality work in after that. It’s really big from a player development standpoint.”

“Just as a whole, we can cover anything really,” Gary added. “No matter what the player needs, we’ve got an avenue for them to get better here, which is really important.”

In addition to several player development elements, the facility holds a players’ lounge that the programs have already used for team meetings and activities.

“The players take a lot of pride in the facility,” said Metts. “I think this gives them something to be proud of. This is something that proves it’s truly a privilege to be a part of an athletic team or athletic program. It just gives them that much more pride to be a part of the family that they are, and they take a lot of pride in that and they treat it with the respect that this place is due.”

Athletic Director Todd Stewart, who emceed the program, said much of the design of the facility had come from Hatchett before his death. In fact, Phillip knew the facility had been approved before his death. Stewart credited Coach Gary’s dad, Greg Gary of BG Builders, for his role in the construction.

The building costs totaled $456,000, according to Elliott Pratt of the Bowling Green Daily News. Stewart thanked 11 donors who contributed $5,000 or more for the project, including Beth Hatchett.

Conference USA last year named its annual men’s golf coaching award the Phillip Hatchett Coach of the Year.


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