On July 23, 2005, Furman University director of athletics Dr. Gary Clark announced the hiring of Lady Paladin golf alumna Jen Hanna ('98) as the fifth head coach in the history of the Furman women's golf program.
During her seven seasons at the helm of the Paladin program, Hanna has guided Furman to a pair of Southern Conference titles, five NCAA Regional appearances and one trip to the NCAA Championships.
In her first season, Hanna guided the Lady Paladin program to four top six finishes and its 14th consecutive NCAA Regional bid. Under her leadership and direction, Furman produced two All-SoCon selections and the Southern Conference Freshman-of-the-Year.
In 2006-07, Hanna guided Furman to its 15th straight NCAA Regional bid and an 11th place finish at the NCAA East Regional in Baton Rouge, La. Sophomore Blair Lamb captured Southern Conference individual medalist honors and two Lady Paladins earned Southern Conference Golfer-of-the-Month honors.
Hanna's 2007-08 Furman squad captured its first of two straight SoCon titles and placed eighth at the NCAA East Regional in Athens, Ga., to earn a berth in the 2008 NCAA Championships in Albuquerque, N.M. Hanna, who garnered 2008 and 2009 SoCon Coach-of-the-Year honors, helped Furman to its second straight league title and sophomore Stefanie Kenoyer to her second straight SoCon individual championship during the 2008-09 campaign.
Hanna, a 1998 National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) first-team All-American and Furman Athletic Hall of Fame member, had a standout four-year career as a Lady Paladin .
"Jen's passion for the game of golf is matched only by her passion for Furman and for this Lady Paladin program," said Clark. "Her lifelong desire to coach and help young athletes reach their potential is evident in even brief conversations, and she possesses an outstanding knowledge of the game on both the collegiate and professional levels. We feel very confident in handing the reigns of our women's golf team over to her."
While at Furman, Hanna collected 21 top 10 collegiate finishes, two Southern Conference Player of the Year Awards (1996, '98), a SoCon Freshman of the Year Plaque ('95), and three team MVP awards. In addition, she set the school's single season stroke average record with a 73.6 mark in 1997-98, and is sixth on Furman's all-time career stroke average chart. As a senior in the spring of 1998, Hanna was named Furman Female Athlete of the Year, and placed in the top 10 in every regular season tournament.
"The opportunity to coach is one I have been looking forward to for some time, though I expected it to be down the road a bit," said Hanna. "When Mic left, however, I felt this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. Over the last seven years I have discovered how much I love motivating people, teaching people, and helping them reach their goals. I think it is great that at my age I have been able to open another door to another dream of mine, and it is very exciting to know that I am a part of the great Furman women's golf tradition as a player, and now I get to build on that tradition as a coach."
After completing her bachelor of arts degree in health and exercise science, Hanna continued her golf career on the professional level, and went on to spend one season (1998-99) on the Futures Tour before tying for 13th at the 1999 LPGA Qualifying Tournament to gain exempt status for the 2000 tour season. In her lone season on the Futures Tour, Hanna accumulated seven top 10 showings and placed 13th on the money list with a top finish of second. In six years as an LPGA competitor, Hanna posted a career-low 63 during the opening round of the 2001 Welch's/Circle K Championship and posted a career-best finish of eighth at the 2000 Subaru Memorial of Naples and the 2000 Firstar LPGA Classic. Her career earnings stand at more than $176,000, and she has three LPGA top 10 finishes to her credit. Hanna qualified for and competed in the U.S. Open this past summer.
In addition to her playing career, Hanna made a name for herself as a volunteer with the LPGA/USGA Girls Club, and in 2002 was named official spokeswoman. Since then, she has conducted more than 30 clinics for girls between the ages of seven and 17 at various tour stops throughout the United States. Due in part to her efforts with the Girl's Club, Hanna was the recipient of the 2003 LPGA Budget Service Award.
A native of Pennsylvania, Hanna is also the founder and tournament director of the Paul Wilhelm LPGA Charity Pro-Am in Gibsonia, Penn., a tournament that honors her former friend who lost his battle with cancer in 2002. She has also gained valuable administrative experience by assisting the Furman Paladin Club with its annual Pro-Am, and has played a key role in securing LPGA players in each of the last five years.
Despite her years as a professional golfer, Hanna remained close to the Furman program in body and spirit. When not on the road playing tournaments, Hanna was a regular at the team's practice facility, and donated the cash prize from her LPGA Budget Service Award to the school's women's golf team. She has made Greenville her permanent home since coming to Furman as a freshman out of Solon, Ohio, where she was a standout athlete in basektball, softball, and golf. She also spent the last 10 years as a teacher at the annual Mic Potter Golf School.
Hanna, 35, started playing golf at the age of 9 and credits Charlie Wood, Ron Materni, her parents Russ and Lorraine, and Potter as the individuals most influencing her career. She has two brothers, Craig and Geoff, and, in addition to golf, enjoys in-line skating, basketball, hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing.