When the University of Florida named J.C. Deacon the head men’s golf coach, it certainly caught much of the college golf world by surprise. After all, Deacon, with just four years of experience as an assistant coach at UNLV, was given the steering wheel to one of the big-name golf programs in the country.
The Toronto native has to fill the shoes of not only Buddy Alexander, but the expectations of UF athletics. Alexander spent 27 seasons in Gainesville and won a pair of national championships, in 1993 and 2001. Alexander also led his squad to eight SEC titles.
While Deacon has a bit of rebuilding to do, the first step has to be keeping a couple of very important players who verbally committed to Alexander: Sam Horsfield and Jorge Garcia. Both players have been consistently ranked in the top 10 in junior golf for much of the past year, and gave verbal commitments long before Alexander announced his retirement.
Horsfield met with Deacon on July 4 and decided to remain committed to Florida.
“I will be going to the University of Florida and I met with the J.C. and he is a really great guy,” said Horsfield. “I think that he wants to win like the rest of us. My family who met with him felt the same way also. I can’t wait to be a Gator in 2015.”
Garcia, who met with Deacon prior to his departure for the AJGA Wyndham Cup, also confirmed he plans to stay committed to Florida.
“It means a lot that we were all able to work things out after a couple of months of not knowing what will happen,” said Garcia. “It sounds like it’s going to be a great fit for Sam and I and we are really looking forward to working with J.C. and (assistant coach) John (Handrigan).”
The Florida golf program struggled this past year and failed to make the postseason. It marked the first time a Florida golf team had missed the NCAA Championship since 2001 – a 13-year streak.
However, the Gators will return their top five players from last year’s squad led by senior J.D. Tomlinson, and with the expected arrival of Horsfield and Garcia in the fall of 2015, this is good news for Gator golf.