Lane Strickland signs with Georgia Northwestern

On hand to watch Lane Strickland (seated, center) join the Georgia Northwestern golf program were Misty and Joey Strickland, Sonoraville High principal Bruce Potts, Sonoraville High athletic director Brent Mashburn, Sonoraville High golf coach Mike Farley, Georgia Northwestern golf coach Eddie Jackson and Sonoraville assistant golf coach Cody Townsend. (Messenger photo/Scott Herpst)

The last time a golf team representing Georgia Northwestern played in a tournament, they finished as national runners-up.

That was almost one year ago and a lot of things have happened to the program since that time.

The school moved from the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) and the college hired a new head coach in LaFayette Golf Course teaching pro Eddie Jackson. Jackson was then charged with the task of recruiting an entire new team for the Bobcats as there were no holdovers from the 2016 squad.

Last week, the first building block of the rebooted Bobcat program was set into place as Sonoraville High School senior Lane Strickland became the first to don the Navy-and-Silver.

"I'm very excited," Strickland said. "I've always wanted to play college golf and I've been practicing and working for the opportunity. I've dreamed about playing college golf, but I never thought I'd get the chance."

"I'm as excited as Lane is," Jackson said. "He's the first one that's signing with us as we restart the program. I'm really impressed with his game and I'm impressed with him as a young man. I think he'll do a great job for us over the next two or three years."

Strickland says his game is all about fairways and greens. He currently holds a 39.3-stroke average in nine-hole matches and a 78 average for 18 holes.

Jackson said he was looking for consistency in the kids he has recruited.

“Lane is very consistent on the course," the new coach added. "He still has work ahead of him to do to get better, but I was looking for players with solid games and Lane has one, so I think he'll do very well.

"I like the way he drives the ball. He gets it off the tee very well. I also think he has a passion for the game, and that's another thing we looked for in recruiting. We wanted kids that really wanted to play. He has assured me that he does and I believe that. That's half the battle right there."

Phoenix coach Mike Farley even got emotional when talking about his senior signee.

"Lane is a really good, high-character kid that has worked really hard during the last four years to improve his golf game," Farley explained. "He's a kid you can rely on and one you can build a program around. Coach Jackson is getting a good one.

"One of Lane's biggest skills is his temperament on the golf course. He's never up or down and he doesn't let a bad shot affect the rest of his game. He's even-keeled and I think the way he handles himself is one of his biggest attributes on the course."

Strickland added that he looked forward to getting started.

"It feels good to sign," he said. “I know pretty much everyone that's going to sign already and it's nice to help the program have a fresh start."