Special to the Journal
Darton College golf play is in full swing and hopefully on course for another championship year, the Cavalier golf squad’s head coach told the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County on March 12.
Coach Bill Jones III reported that this year’s team is “very talented” and currently ranked fourth in the country among junior colleges according to Golf Magazine.
Jones is a former Darton player who went on to Mercer University where he earned a BBA in finance and management. While playing for Mercer he was named Charles Morgan Senior Athlete of the Year for 2009, was named to the 2009 ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American team, and was included on the 2009 All-Atlantic Sun First Team.
Jones said he knew from an early age he wanted a career involving golf. He still harbors a dream of turning pro, but said he knew he wasn’t yet good enough to compete at that level.
“A lot of golfers turn pro too early, before they’re ready,” he said. Working with the Darton team provides a chance for his links skills to further grow and mature.
However much he learned as a player, he said, he has learned even more as a coach by working with the younger linksters.
Joining Jones for the Kiwanis presentation were Cavalier golfers and sophomores Chanat (Joe) Sakulpolphaisan and Shad Tuten. Sakulpolphaisan, a Thailand native with a 70.9 stroke average, is 36th in the country overall and number one among junior college players. He has a garnered a lot of recruitment interest from several large schools, Jones said.
Tuten, “the most improved player we’ve ever had,” said Jones, is having a good year and ranked 13th nationally in junior college rankings.
Jones, who became head coach in fall of last year after two years as an assistant coach, is working to build the squad back to at least 10 or 11 players. Recently-signed freshmen will play a big role in 2012.
“Recruitment is a big key to the success of the program,” Jones observed.
The Cavalier golf program is extensively structured, with practice at least five days a week, Jones said. He added that he’s had former players who went on to play for bigger schools report to him that their new programs were not as hard as Darton’s. One result has been that Darton’s golf profile has been raised a lot over the last three or four years.
While the golf program is part of Darton College’s athletic department, Jones said “we have to rely on the community to help raise funds” to assist with the extensive travel the squad has to undertake. To achieve this, the team hosts an annual golf tournament. There is also a general athletic fundraiser scheduled in April at Stonebridge Country Club. An ongoing effort is a Darton College golf hat sale.
“We welcome the enthusiasm of the community” in its involvement with the Cavaliers golf team, Jones concluded.
Darton College Cavaliers golfers (from left) Joe Sakulpolphaisan and Shad Tuten and head coach Bill Jones III (far right) look on as magistrate judge Baxter Howell examines golf team fundraising merchandise after the Kiwanis meeting.