The last two springs at the Valspar Collegiate, a college event at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., instructor Claude Harmon III tried to get coaches to take a look at one of his pupils, Prescott Butler.
But the truth of the matter is that while Butler had loads of potential, he just hadn’t produced enough to warrant an offer from a top-level Division I program. So earlier this year when Butler started to rattle off those top programs as a list of his desired college destinations, Harmon challenged his player.
“I said to Prescott, ‘You’re going to have to go out and get some wins and put yourself on the radar for coaches,’” said Harmon, who works with major winners Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka among others.
Butler did that. He won the Liberty National Junior, and then an AJGA open event in the Dominican Republic. After that followed a runner-up finish at the AJGA Polo Golf Junior Classic and a 4-0 performance at the Wyndham Cup.
“All the coaches that have called me that have now watched him play, they’ve gone, ‘How did we miss this kid?'” Harmon said. “But I think it was a situation that he just wasn’t playing in anything that people could go see him. And when they would go see him, he’d play good for three or four holes and then he’d make a bunch of X’s and have a few foul balls, and coaches would leave him.”
Added Harmon: “All of sudden college coaches are calling where as before, none of them would call.”
Butler got interest from many schools, including Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, SMU, Ole Miss, South Florida and Northwestern. On Tuesday, he decided on a school: the Crimson Tide.
Said World No. 1 Dustin Johnson to Harmon: “It’s funny how winning takes care of everything.”
Butler, 18, is now ranked 16th in the AJGA rankings. Six months ago, he was No. 1,304.
“It’s hard to impress me given the caliber of players that I work with. I mean, Brooks just won a major for the first time,” Harmon said. “But I’m so impressed with what this kid’s done; it’s crazy. He’s gone from nowhere to now some of the best college coaches in the country calling me, going ‘We’d really love to have this kid come to our school.’”
Butler, who lives in Jupiter, Fla., but grew up in Old Westbury, N.Y., is the second commitment for Alabama for the Class of 2018. Frankie Capan, who teamed with SMU commit Ben Wong to win the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, committed earlier this year.
Alabama is also bringing in a stellar freshman class this fall that includes highly ranked players Davis Shore, Wilson Furr and Ben Fuller.
“I can’t wait,” Butler told Golfweek after committing. “Really looking forward to seeing what we can do.”