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LARGO — Danielle Jackson’s professional golf career has taken her across North America, from her hometown of Seminole to Orlando and San Antonio and far-flung locales like Beloeil, Quebec, as a player on the LPGA Futures Tour and the Canadian Women’s Tour.
For the next two months, though, Jackson will temporarily shelve her golf bag, opting instead for a clipboard and cart after signing on to coach the Northside Christian boys team.
She brings an impressive resume. As a junior at Stetson University, Jackson was the 2009 end-of-season Atlantic Sun Tournament champion and helped the Hatters win their first conference team championship. That season, Jackson was named Stetson’s Female Student-Athlete of the Year.
In 2004, Jackson led Northside Christian to its only state team title after finishing in a tie for third individually.
Now, she’ll try her hand at coaching, a pursuit she conceived while playing for long-time Stetson coach Floyd Kerr.
“I ultimately would love to coach at the collegiate level,” Jackson said. “I think this is a great start for me to spend a couple years coaching high school and developing some players and learning and seeing what I can do here.”
Jackson should find success in her debut season. The Mustangs’ boys won district and region titles in 2010 and qualified for the state tournament. Three players return, including Chris Keller, a senior who can “hit the ball a mile” according to Jackson, and sophomore Anthony Quintessenza, who posted solid scores throughout the playoffs as a freshman.
“It looks like we’ve gotten better since last year,” Keller said.
For now, Jackson, who said she was playing the best golf of her life earlier this year, has put a burgeoning pro career on hold. She won a pro-am near Orlando in the summer after shooting a career-best 67 and, at another tournament, missed qualifying for the U.S. Open by two strokes.
She’ll settle for slightly-less-lofty goals this fall, like coaching a state-title winner.
“(Coaching)’s my only priority right now,” she said.
Boys to watch
David Caulfield, Jr., East Lake: Leader of a strong contingent of underclassmen looking to lead the Eagles back to state.
Dustin Dingus, Sr., Palm Harbor University: Culminated a fantastic offseason by winning the Florida State Golf Association Junior Match Play championship.
Chase Harvey, Sr., Clearwater: Has been shooting par entering the season and will challenge for a district title.
Eric Ines, Jr., Seminole: Shot 71 to earn a district title and tied for fourth at regionals in 2010.
Kyle Kubala, Jr., Northeast: First team all-PCAC after carding a 38.3 nine-hole average last season.
Jack Maguire, Jr., St. Petersburg: Shot 68 to win a region title last year and tied for 22nd at the 2A state tournament.
Benjarong Murray, Jr., Calvary Christian: His 78 at Bardmoor a year ago helped the Warriors finish as region runnerup.
Andrew Norris, Sr., Dunedin: Placed third at the 2A-12 district tourney last season after carding 74.
Ryan Orr, Jr., Clearwater Central Catholic: Won the Sam Parks Junior Memorial Tournament at Belleair this month.
Matthew Rothrock, So., St. Petersburg Catholic: Co-captain has shown incredible accuracy while shooting even par in preseason practice.
Boys teams to watch
Clearwater Central Catholic: Orr, the Marauders’ top golfer, has impressed this summer, winning two high-competition-level tournaments. Fellow juniors Patrick Sheehan and Connor O’Shaughnessy have also had a strong off-season, and incoming freshman Martin Fennamore rounds out a quality foursome for CCC.
East Lake: On paper, the Eagles appear to be the county’s best team. They have talent at the top of the lineup with juniors Caulfield, Sebastian Hilpl and Zack Wood, and a number of talented golfers to challenge for the fourth and fifth spots.
Palm Harbor University: The Hurricanes are a safe pick to win a third district title in a row. The team returns Dingus, along with fellow senior Colby Norris, who had the Hurricanes’ low round at regionals (78) last year.
Seminole: Three of the Warhawks’ top six from 2010 are back, including Ines, the district medalist, fellow junior Eric Sines and senior Adam Norris. Seminole will be aiming for its second-straight district team title.
St. Petersburg Catholic: Barons return four of their top five, including 2010 district champion Clayton Spilman, and add Shorecrest transfer Charlie Dunn for a potent, all-underclassmen starting five.
Girls golf preview
ST. PETERSBURG – There was a time when Shane Crutchfield’s crossover was as good as her chip.
First-year St. Petersburg girls coach Kenneth Powell has known Crutchfield since she was a 13-year-old point guard, back when he used to coach her brother Knox in basketball at Roberts Recreation Center. He remembers watching a tenacious worker with a handle and a jump shot.
“She was a phenomenal basketball player,” Powell said. “I’d been trying to get her to play basketball for St. Pete since she was a freshman. Her brother kept telling me, ‘Wait until you see her play golf.’ ”
In the eighth grade, Crutchfield abandoned basketball to concentrate on golf. Since then, she has won three district titles in three tries at St. Petersburg, captured a region title and placed as high as 12th in two appearances at the state tournament. Next year, she’ll play golf for Xavier after committing to the Musketeers this summer.
“I’ve stopped messing with her about playing basketball,” Powell joked.
A senior, Crutchfield is the county’s best hope for a state golf title. In January, she started a resistance and body-weight training program, allowing her to generate more power to combine with her already dead-eye accuracy. The payoff came when she finished fifth at the prestigious AJGA Northern Virginia Junior two weeks ago.
She’s the 73rd ranked senior in the nation by Junior Golf Scoreboard.
“Her focus is like none other,” Powell said. “When she finished the state tournament last year, everybody else was celebrating. She went back out on the course and practiced.”
Crutchfield said it’s been over a year and a half since she picked up a basketball. She has no regrets.
“I’m happy with what I’m doing,” she said.
For that matter, so is Powell.
Girls to watch
Marisol Doglioli, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic: Foreign-exchange student who plays for the Italian National Junior team in her home country.
Ally Franzese, Jr., Osceola: Warriors’ top player was second at districts a year ago.
Madison Glennie, So., Countryside: Fired 2-over 74 at regionals to qualify for the state tournament as a freshman.
Ryanne Jackson, 8th, Northside Christian: Following in the footsteps of sisters Danielle and Morgan, the youngest Jackson can hit the ball a ton.
Emma Paschal, Fr., Clearwater Central Catholic: 14-year-old newcomer who consistently scores in the 70s.
Jordan Patton, Sr., East Lake: Experienced golfer was fourth at districts last season after shooting 80.
Emily Swidock, So., St. Petersburg Catholic: Dedicated player who qualified for regionals a year ago by firing a career-best 76 at districts.
Jasmine Wade, Sr., Palm Harbor University: Carded 70 to win a district title and had the lowest PCAC scoring average (38) in 2010.
Girls teams to watch
Countryside: Glennie was a revelation for Countryside last season, qualifying for states as a precocious freshman. Erin Williamson, a junior, also returns, giving the Cougars a team capable of contending for district and region titles.
Northside Christian: The Mustangs graduated their top four. A.J. Newell (Tennessee), Michelle Butler (Missouri) and Danielle Grace (Lipscomb) are all playing Division I golf, and Anna Newell is not competing. This year’s squad is a collection of talented 7th- and 8th-graders, led by Jackson and Ashley Zager.
Palm Harbor University: The Hurricanes return Wade, a player of the year candidate, and senior Lauren Coe from a district championship team. PHU is looking to return to states for the first time since 2005.
Sept. 3: East Lake Invitational at Wentworth
Sept. 19: Outback Invitational at East Lake Woodlands (host: Mitchell)
Sept. 29: Mustang Invitational at Seminole Lake (boys)
Oct. 10-14: Pinellas County Athletic Conference Championships
Oct. 11: Bay Conference Championship at Bardmoor
Oct. 13: Mustang Invitational at Seminole Lake (girls)
Oct. 15: CCC Invitational at Belleair
Oct. 17-18: District tournaments
Oct. 24-25: Region tournaments
Nov. 1-2: State tournaments