Chase Jones was willing to sacrifice a year of golf now for a year of golf later.
Dalton State College hopes to benefit from his choice.
Jones is the first addition to the Roadrunners’ men’s golf team since the school announced it would relaunch intercollegiate athletics. Jones signed a partial athletic scholarship on Friday and will enroll at Dalton State for the 2013-14 school year, when the school will return to competition for the first time in more than three decades.
A 2011 Murray County High School graduate, Jones helped lead the Indians to the Georgia High School Association Class 3A tournament during his senior season. He started his collegiate career at Darton State College in Albany, but played just one season and is sitting out competition this year. He’s currently taking classes at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton.
“I knew Dalton was starting up a program and knew it wasn’t starting until the fall of 2013,” Jones said, “so I wanted to save up the year of eligibility.
“Once I found out they were having a program and I would be the first to sign, it definitely added to it. ... When I found that out, it was definitely something I looked forward to.”
At Darton State, he earned the Cavaliers’ Richie Day Scholarship, which is given for showing dedication to the game, a strong grade point average and community involvement. As a freshman, Jones had a 3.4 GPA and a 75.6 scoring average on the course.
He shot a 3-over-par 291 this past spring to finish second individually in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Region 17 championship at Stonebridge Gold and Country Club in Albany. As a team, the Cavs won the event and then finished fifth in the NJCCA Division I national championship in Newton, Kan.
Jones competed in this past summer’s Georgia Amateur Championship — he shot 19-over-par 163 and failed to make the two-day cut at the Georgia State Golf Association event — and Georgia Open, where he finished at 11-over-par 155 and failed to make the two-day cut.
“I’ll try to qualify for those two this year, too,” Jones said.
He has already qualified for one honor — becoming Roadrunners golf coach Ben Rickett’s first player.
“(He’s) a good local kid who I know wants to come back toward home,” said Rickett, who was hired in December after a playing and coaching career at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga that spanned from 2005 to 2012.
“I had heard the name before. I knew he was a good kid coming out of here. In Dalton, especially in the golfing environment, you hear things. He ended up getting in contact with me through (Dalton Golf and Country Club). He has the qualities that I look for in a player.”
Those qualities include “power and strength,” said Rickett, who added that Jones’ lanky frame can help add distance to his shots.
“Length is something in golf you cannot teach,” Rickett added. “With the right guidance, I think we can turn him into a great golfer. He’s also calm.”
Five golfers are required for scoring purposes in competitions for both the men’s and women’s teams, but Rickett wants at least six on each roster.
“I want that to be a mixture of junior college transfers and freshmen. I need to break up my classes,” he said. “I’m looking everywhere. I’m reaching out to a lot of the local high school coaches from here. I’m hoping to get to know the people here.”
Jones is the second athlete from Murray County to sign with the Roadrunners. North Murray High Scool senior Isaac Pacheco signed with Dalton State’s cross country team in February.