Pepperdine men’s golf coach selected to lead Team USA at Arnold Palmer Cup

Michael Beard coaching Pepperdine in the 2021 National Championship match. Photo by Roger Horne.

When Michael Beard was a standout for the Pepperdine Wavs men’s golf team in the early aughts he dreamed of stepping on the course at the Arnold Palmer Cup.

That aspiration never landed on the green for Beard, a two-time PING All-American honorable mention and four-time All-West Coast Conference first teamer in his years as a Waves golfer — 1999 to 2002. However, it is set to come to fruition for him as a coach. 

On Dec. 5, Beard, now Pepperdine men’s golf team’s coach, was selected to coach Team USA at the 2023 Arnold Palmer Cup at Laurel Valley Club in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, on June 8-10, 2023. 

The Waves head coach, who lead Pepperdine to the NCAA crown in June 2021, is excited about the chance to coach in the signature spectacle. 

“I’ve heard from other coaches that have done it and they it is one of the best weeks of their lives,” Beard said. “Winning a national championship is something you work toward and your formulate a plan to give yourself a chance at. Coaching at the Cup is an extra bonus.”

Dustin Roberts, the Golf Coaches Association of America’s chief operating officer, notified Beard that he was selected as one of the U.S. team’s two coaches. 

Beard, who interviewed for the job, said at first it was hard for him to envision himself in the coaching role. He credited the success his Waves golfers have had over the years in helping him get the job.

“It is one of those things where I see other coaches there,” he said. “It was a goal at some point, but I know I wouldn’t have an opportunity like this if it wasn’t for all the great players that we have had over the years. It was a team effort.” 

The Arnold Palmer Cup features men’s and women’s collegiate golfers from across the country. The red, white, and blue squad will take on a team composed of international players. The first Palmer Cup was in 1997 and women were added to the competition in 2018. The U.S. is up 13-12-1 in the all-time series. 

Oregon women’s golf coach Derek Radley will coach the American team with Beard. Sweden’s Golda Borst of Kentucky and Canada’s John Handrigan of Notre Dame will lead the international team. 

Beard is in his 11th season as the Waves head coach. He was the team’s assistant coach for a year, and then assistant at Arizona State for a year, before he took the top coaching reigns at Pepperdine. Beard coached the Waves to the national title and is a six-time WCC Coach of the Year and two-time Golf Pride West Region Coach of the Year. Pepperdine has won five WCC team titles and had four WCC individual champions under Beard’s watch. 

Pepperdine Director of Athletics Steve Potts said coaching Team USA is a well-deserved honor for Beard and Waves golf. 

“Michael is one of the finest collegiate golf coaches in the country, and I am confident he will serve with distinction in this prestigious international event,” he said. 

Beard is looking forward to coaching with Radley. 

“It is an exciting opportunity,” Beard said. “We want to be prepared and try to figure out what type of culture we want to instill with the team and figure out who is going to be on the team.” 

Arnold Palmer is one of the greatest players in golf history. Nicknamed “The King,” Palmer won 62 PGA Tour titles from 1955 to 1973. He died on Sept. 25, 2016, at age 87. 

Beard wants the U.S. players to understand Palmer’s legacy before swinging their clubs in Arnold Palmer Cup.

“Laurel Valley is near where Palmer grew up,” Beard said. “We are going to be able to see where it all started for him. I’ve met Mr. Palmer but the younger guys really have only heard about him. Part of the culture is going to be learning more about him and understand why he was so great and had a lasting an impact on people and the game of golf.” 

Beard has watched the Palmer Cup every year and even attended the event in 2018 when it was held in France. He will get more excited about the tournament as the tee-off day gets closer. 

“It’s a big deal in college golf,” Beard said. “There are a select few who get to play in it and even more of a select that get to coach. It is special.”