Emilee Klein-Gille (Gill – Lee) has been named women’s golf coach at The University of Tulsa, it was announced today by Vice President & Director of Athletics Dr. Derrick Gragg. Klein-Gille was an All-American at Arizona State University in the 1990s and went on to compete in over 300 events during an 11-year LPGA career.
Klein-Gille brings six years of experience as a collegiate head coach to the Tulsa position, coaching previously at UCF and San Diego State. She returns to the coaching ranks after spending the past two-plus years in private business.
“Emilee has been successful on all levels of golf. She brings the enthusiasm, experience and knowledge that we need at The University of Tulsa to elevate our women’s golf program back into the national limelight. We’re excited that Emilee and her family are joining our TU family,” said Gragg. “Her successes and experiences as a junior golfer, NCAA Champion and again on the LPGA Tour clearly identifies a road map for success that translates well to young golfers.”
“I’m excited. Tulsa has so much history, and the tremendous community support and administrative support. Everything that goes along with the package of being at Tulsa is just, for me, an incredible opportunity, and something I’m really excited about,” Klein-Gille said. “All the history and success they’ve had in the past and watching it when Dale McNamara was the coach, in my mind I always know that’s where the program should be. I’m really looking forward to getting in there and rebuilding, and getting it back to a national championship-level program. It’s always been a special place, and Dale did something tremendous with the program. It just shows what can be done, and where the program should be. That’s where we have to take it back.”
Following her LPGA career, Klein-Gille became the head coach at UCF in 2005, where she spent four seasons improving the program’s national ranking from 114th to as high as 35th in those four years. She led her UCF team to the NCAA Regional Tournament in her second season, a first-ever feat for the program since the regional format began in 1993. Klein-Gille helped raise funds for a new on-campus golf facility and created and developed The UCF Challenge Golf Tournament.
Klein-Gille was the head coach at San Diego State University for two seasons (2009-2011) and improved the Aztecs’ national ranking from 86th to as high as 27th in those two years. Her team made NCAA regional appearances in consecutive seasons, ending a long drought for the San Diego State women’s golf program. At SDSU, Klein-Gille established The Battle at Rancho Bernardo Golf Tournament, becoming the fourth-ranked women’s collegiate tournament nationally in 2011.
“Looking at it now, I have a fire and a desire that I think is even greater than it was before,” Klein-Gille said of returning to coaching after a hiatus. “I knew if the right opportunity arose I would be interested in getting back into coaching, because I did miss being around golf, being around the girls, helping them improve their game, and helping programs get better. When Tulsa opened up, it was really exciting to see, because that’s the first time a school had opened since I left that I really felt was the right opportunity for me to go in and work with a program and have a chance to win a national championship.”
As a collegian, Klein-Gille earned first-team All-America honors in 1993 and 1994, while leading her Arizona State team to the NCAA team title in both seasons and capturing the NCAA individual crown at the 1994 championship. As a junior golfer, she was the 1988 California Women’s State Amateur Champion, the 1991 USGA Junior Girls Champion and the 1991 AJGA Junior Player of the Year. Klein-Gille was named the 1994 Golf Digest Women’s Amateur Player of the Year.
Klein-Gille began her professional career as Golf Digest’s LPGA Rookie of the Year in 1995. She won three LPGA tournaments, including the 1996 Weetabix Women’s British Open, the 1996 Ping/Welch championship and the 2002 Michelob LPGA title. During her career, Klein-Gille represented Callaway Golf, Tommy Bahama and MasterCard.
The British Open championship was Klein’s second ever victory, at the age of just 21 years old. Her second round of 66 saw her draw away from the strong international field giving her a five-stroke halfway lead. Final rounds of 71 and 72 saw her win comfortably by seven shots.
In 2002, Klein-Gille was a member of the U.S. Solheim Cup Team that defeated Team Europe, 15.5 to 12.5, at the Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minnesota. Klein posted a 3-1-0 record at the event and was joined on the American team by former Tulsa All-American Kelly Robbins, while competing against another former TU golfer Carin Koch on the European team.
A native of Sherman Oaks, Calif., Klein-Gille and her husband, Jon, have one son, nine-month-old Mason, and are expecting their second son in September.