Entering his third season at the helm of Rice University golf, head coach Justin Emil has taken strides with the Owl program since his hiring in June 2011.
In his first season, 2011-12, Emil coached Jeff Wibawa to a breakout campaign in which the sophomore captured the medal in October's Lone Star Invitational at Briggs Ranch, thanks in part to a second-round score of 67. Emil also aided numerous other young players on the squad to make strides and develop their game throughout the campaign.
The squad's hard work paid off in Emil's second season, as the Owls notched four top-10 finishes in 2012-13, with a high-water mark of third place at the Rice Intercollegiate. In fact, the Owls played in five common tournaments and courses in each of the two seasons and averaged a 17.6-stroke improvement this past season.
In Emil's tenure, the Owls have placed 10 honorees on the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll and he has coached a pair of C-USA Academic Medal honorees.
"Justin is bright, articulate, passionate and has served very effectively at a similar institution that competes in the classroom and on the golf course at the highest level," said Rice University director of athletics Rick Greenspan following Emil's hire. "He has strong beliefs that academic excellence and athletic greatness are not mutually exclusive. Justin has a very solid plan for growing our golf program competitively, being actively engaged in community outreach and fundraising and being a strong member of the Rice community."
Emil joined the Rice University staff after a five-year stint as an assistant coach at Vanderbilt. While at Vanderbilt, the Commodores won three team championships - the 2010 Samford Intercollegiate, the 2009 Seminole Intercollegiate and the 2008 Kauai Collegiate Cup - and advanced to postseason play three times.
In his first season at Vanderbilt, the Commodores shot a 21-under 267 for the final round of the NCAA West Regional played at Arizona State's Karsten Golf Course to finish fifth and earn a spot in the 27-team, 2007 NCAA National Championship. The Commodores were 17-under after 36 holes and the 21-under par the final day of the regional was the low round of the tournament.
During the 2007-08 season, Vanderbilt captured the Kauai Collegiate Cup, the program's first tournament championship since 2003. Two Commodore golfers went on to win individual championships during the year. The 2008-09 campaign was highlighted by a team title at the Seminole Intercollegiate, two more individual tournament championships and a return to postseason play.
In addition to winning the Samford Intercollegiate, Vanderbilt advanced to the NCAA Regional Championships for the third time in four years in 2010.
Vanderbilt posted seven, Top 10 finishes during the 2010-11 season. Led by another individual championship, the Commodores were runners-up at the 18-team Hummingbird Intercollegiate during the season.
While at Vanderbilt, Emil played a role in the development of Vandy Golf Day, which raised over $150,000 for the golf program in four years.
In May of 2009, he regained his amateur status after five years of professional golf and continues to play competitively. He made the cut en route to finishing 31st at the 2009 Tennessee State Amateur and finished sixth at the Tennessee State Mid-Amateur in the fall of 2009.
Prior to Vanderbilt, Emil served as a golf professional for Windance Golf and Country Club in his native Gulfport, Miss. In that capacity, he was in charge of budgeting, purchasing and organizing inventory for the golf shop and taught lessons to adults and held annual golf camps for juniors. He also directed all tournament operations for member events, local outings and state golf association championships.
As a professional, he finished second in the Tennessee PGA Section Assistants Championship (74-67) in 2007, qualifying to play in the Taylor Made/adidas PGA Assistants Championship.
Emil was a four-year letterman at the University of Southern Mississippi. He was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2000 and named second-team all-conference following his senior season in 2003. He qualified for the United States Amateur Championship in 2002 (Oakland Hills) and 2003 (Oakmont).
Emil earned his bachelor's degree in sports administration from Southern Miss in 2002. He continued his education at USM, earning a master's degree in sports management in 2004 while working with the Golden Eagle golf team as a graduate assistant.
Emil and his wife, Amber, are expecting their first child in August.