Rich Mueller took the helm of Columbia's golf program in August 2005. While also serving as Director of Golf, Mueller has shaped the Columbia golf program into a perennial power in the Ivy League. He has led Columbia to five Ivy League team championships (four men, one women) with three individual Ivy League champions, five NCAA postseason team appearances and 22 All-Ivy League golfers.
The Lions roared to its fourth Ivy League Championship in the last seven years in 2014, in one of the best performances at Baltusrol Golf Club. Columbia's second round score of 276 was the third-best round in program history and catapulted the Lions to first place, keeping Yale at a distance through the final round for a 12-stroke victory. Brandon Jowers and Harrison Shih captured first team All-Ivy accolades, while Tharusyan Pillay took home second team honors.
Columbia's 2014 season was full of team accomplishments. In addition to the 276 from the Ivy League Championship, Columbia shot a 274 at The Doc Gimmler and a 275 at the 2014 Desert Shootout for the three lowest rounds in program history. The Lions also won two tournaments for the first time since 2005-06, winning the Wildcat Invitational hosted by Villanova and the Ivy League Championship.
Columbia claimed fourth at the 2013 Ivy League Championship, getting second team All-Ivy League performances from sophomore Brandon Jowers and first-year Harrison Shih. As a team, the Lions twice finished in the top-five of tournaments, while recording five individual top-10 showings.
The Lions took third place at the 2012 Ivy League Championship just missing out on a possible three-team playoff by three strokes. Then-junior Michael Yiu placed second individually and earned first team All-Ivy League honors. The Lions posted five top-three team showings in 2011-12.
The 2010-11 squad made second-round and third-round surges up the leaderboard at the Ivy League Championship to finish in second place. Then-junior Brendan Doyle took third place and earned first team All-Ivy League honors. Then-senior Clark Granum tied for seventh and garnered second team all-conference honors. Granum and Yiu were named to the Division I PING All-Region Team. Granum and Doyle were also named GCAA Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholars.
In 2009-10 saw Columbia roar to its third conference championship in as many years. Granum fired a final-round 67 at the famed Baltusrol Golf Course in Springfield, N.J., and helped the Lions hold on for a three-stroke victory. Granum tied for the low score by an individual through 54 holes and was named first team All-Ivy League for the third straight season. Doyle and Yiu garnered second-team accolades. Granum was also named to the Division I PING All-Northesast Region Team and he was tabbed a GCAA Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar.
In 2008-09, the Lions roared back from a three-stroke deficit on the final day to claim their second straight Ivy League Championship. Coincidentally, Mueller’s team advanced to the NCAA Northeast Regional, which Columbia hosted at Galloway National Golf Club in Galloway, NJ. Doyle, a first-year in 2008-09, was named to the Division I PING All-Northeast Region Team. Also successful off the course, the 2008-09 and 2009-10 Lions squads were named a GCAA All-American Academic Team with cumulative GPAs above 3.2.
In the 2007-08 campaign, Mueller finally guided the men’s program to its first Ivy League championship since 1999 and first-ever NCAA post-season appearance. The Lions overcame a small stroke deficit in the final round to eventually win by nine strokes.
In 2006-07, Mueller’s team succumbed to six-shot lead in the final round of the Ivy League Championship to finish third. However, Mueller coached then junior Chris Condello, to Columbia’s first-ever individual title golf title. Condello, who has since turned professional, went on later that spring to qualify for 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
The 2005-06 season was his highly-successful first year for Mueller at Columbia, as the golf program won three tournaments and he was honored as the 2006 Mid-Atlantic Regional Coach of the Year by the Golf Coaches Association of America. The men’s team also posted its then-best finish at the Ivy League Championships since 1999, finishing a stroke behind Princeton for second place. In an interesting twist to the tournament’s conclusion, on the final hole, on the final day in the final pairing, Mueller, unearthed a Princeton players lost ball, which, if not found would have cost the Tigers their title. Sports Illustrated documented the gesture of sportsmanship in their May 2006 issue.
Mueller came to Columbia after spending five years as the head golf coach at New York University, where he led the program to its first two NCAA Championship appearances in 2004 and 2005. The Violets finished a best-ever 21st in 2005, after a 23rd-place finish in 2004. For his efforts, Mueller was named the University Athletic Association Coach of the Year in 2004 and was selected as the Northeast Region Coach of the Year in 2005 by the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA).
Mueller’s student-athletes have also succeeded away from the course. Thus far he has produced 13 GCAA Academic-All Americans -- including Granum, Columbia’s first-ever honoree -- and seven Academic All-Ivy League student-athletes.
Mueller, a Class A PGA professional, is also a member of the GCAA, USGA, and the AJGA. Additionally, he has served on the NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Committee GCAA All-America Scholar, NCAA Division III Men’s Golf and the ECAC Division III men’s golf committees.
An active participant in the Metropolitan Section of the PGA, Mueller is currently ranked 103rd in Section’s Points and Money List. He has competed on the assistant’s tour as well as in USGA and PGA sanctioned events.
A 1999 graduate of NYU and a four-year member of the Violets’ golf team, Mueller received the team’s “Iron Horse” Award as a junior for his consistent play, and earned team MVP honors as a senior captain. He also received a master’s degree in Higher Education administration from his alma mater in January 2005.
A native of Greenlawn, N.Y., Mueller also teaches a recreational golf class. He enjoys being a member of the squash club at Columbia and is also a musician who frequently appears in New York City venues. He and his wife Serena live on Morningside Heights near Columbia’s campus.