Moving into the national spotlight, golfer Sean Dale shines at UNF

Moving into the national spotlight, golfer Sean Dale shines at UNF

Zach Morgan

By: Zach Morgan, Contributing Writer

 

It’s not every day that one of the nation’s premiere collegiate golfers is walking around your college campus. But here at UNF, it happens nearly every day. Sean Dale, a UNF junior, is currently the No. 19-ranked collegiate golfer, according to golfweek.com. For Dale, golf is a passion that started early in life.

“I was maybe 3 years old, and I went up to the driving range with my dad one day,” Dale said. “I got into it a little bit, pretty much have been playing ever since, and I’ve pretty much liked the game ever since.”

After learning the basics of golf from his father, an above-average golfer himself, Dale began to see his skills rise and his scores on the course lower. Dale attended Bishop Kenny during his freshman year of high school before deciding to focus on golf. He did so by attending the renowned IMG Academy in Bradenton. There, Dale received coaching the New York Times described as “undeniably first rate.”

Following a year at IMG, Dale returned home, where he continued his home schooling. It was during this time that Dale’s young golf career would come full-circle. He spent his junior and senior years of home schooling playing frequently at Jacksonville Golf and Country Club, the same golf course his father first took him to nearly 15 years before.

“We’re still members to this day,” Dale said. “So, it’s sort of my home course.”

When it came to deciding on a college, Dale faced his first major fork in the road. He decided to sign a national letter of intent to play golf at the University of Mississippi. At Ole Miss, he excelled during his freshman season. Dale was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team and participated in 10 of the team’s 12 events. He earned a top-five finish at the Memphis Intercollegiate.

“I wanted to go to a bigger school, more like a SEC South school, where they had other stuff I could do away from golf, like football games and basketball games,” Dale said. “Then I got there and just realized Florida was the spot to be to play golf.”

After that realization, he returned home to Jacksonville and transferred to UNF. In his first season, Dale starred for the Ospreys on the golf course. He was named Atlantic Sun Player of the Year in golf, was a unanimous first-team all-conference golfer, as well as being named Second Team Ping All-American. In the summer of 2010, Dale also won the Florida State Amateur title while en route to qualifying for the U.S. Amateur Championship.

However, with triumph comes loss, and Dale’s 2011 collegiate season became just that. Battling injury and academic concerns, Dale was forced to redshirt his junior collegiate season.

“It’s not that I was behind in school, but I was almost kind of borderline being eligible and ineligible, and I hurt my left knee,” Dale explained. “It was kind of like a combination of a couple things. It made more sense to get some padding in school to not have to worry about it.”

Despite not playing collegiate golf during the 2010-2011 season, Dale participated in the Florida State Amateur and U.S. Amateur tournaments during the summer. Perhaps it was best for Dale, who had an opportunity to better his academic standing and hone his golf skills on his own.

Apparently, the time off worked for Dale, as his 2011-2012 campaign has been a great one. He has finished in the top 10 in five of the six tournaments he has completed. He placed first individually at the Amelia National Intercollegiate in November. Dale was recently named to the Ben Hogan Award Watch List, which identifies the top 28 collegiate golfers in the country who are in the running for collegiate golf’s most prestigious award.

UNF is being recognized nationally for its golf accomplishments, and while the entire team is having a fantastic season, Dale may represent the Ospreys on the PGA Tour someday.

 

Email Zach Morgan at [email protected]
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