USGA names first-ever head coach of U.S. National Development Program

Chris Zambri

Chris Zambri is the first-ever head coach of the U.S. National Development Program.

Courtesy of the USGA

In February, the USGA introduced its preliminary plans for the new U.S. National Development Program, which will aim to identify, train, develop, fund and support America’s most promising young players, regardless of cultural, geographical or financial background.

On Tuesday, the USGA announced the man who will lead the charge: Chris Zambri will be the program’s first-ever head coach beginning November 1.

Zambri’s appointment adds to his already impressive playing and coaching resume.

Zambri was a two-time All Pac-10 team selection as a collegiate player at USC, and competed on the Korn Ferry Tour for seven years. He qualified for two U.S. Opens and played in four PGA Tour events. Zambri then returned to his alma mater and spent 14 years on the coaching staff at USC, followed by a role as an associate head coach at Pepperdine, where he helped guide the Waves to an NCAA national championship in 2021 and a semifinal appearance in 2022.

“It is an honor to be named as the first head coach in the history of the U.S. National Development Program,” Zambri said in a press release. “This country boasts an incredible depth of golfing talent, and I look forward to playing a key role in developing and supporting the next generation of truly great American players.” 

Zambri’s duties will not only include oversight of the program and day-to-day coaching; he’ll also help develop a network of coaches across the country to help support the program’s mission to identify and develop talent.

kids on driving range
USGA creating new program to develop America’s top junior golfers
By: Jessica Marksbury

The U.S. National Development Program’s framework focuses on six different pillars: talent identification, access to competition, national teams, athlete resources, player development and relations and athlete financial support. Juniors, amateurs and young professionals will have access to three respective national teams, each with a dedicated staff and resources. Special efforts will be made to recruit players from underrepresented communities and a sustainable grant program will assist players with costs like entry fees, travel, coaching, golf course access, equipment and more.

Next year, the program will launch a Junior National Team, coached by Zambri, with an amateur national team and young professional national team to follow over the coming years. The program will begin with 50 funded juniors, a number that will grow to 250 in 2024, 500 in 2025, 750 in 2026, and 1,000 in 2027. Ensuing years will also see the creation of new teams and championships and camps.

“Chris has had an illustrious coaching career and boasts a proven track record of nurturing talented young golfers, helping them develop and take the next steps in their careers,” Heather Daly-Donofrio, USGA managing director, Player Relations and Development, said in the release. “Between his experience as a player and coach, coupled with his passion and leadership, we could not think of anyone better suited to help foster the next generation of elite American golfers.” Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on