Golden: Proximity to home, connections and coach factored in pledge to USI

Former Mount Carmel standout Blake Golden verbally committed to the University of Southern Indiana on Monday night.

CARTERVILLE -- Rather than wait it out to the spring and seek further collegiate interest, John A. Logan's Blake Golden opted to end his four-year school (NCAA) recruitment. Golden verbally committed to attend the University of Southern Indiana next fall, announcing his intentions on social media Monday night.

The former Mount Carmel standout was a member of the Aces 2017 team that finished third in state and continued his success at the collegiate level.

He enjoyed a successful freshman season as a member of men's golf team at Logan, with his team advancing to the NJCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship in Melbourne, Fla. last season.

This year Golden ranks as the 149th overall golfer in the men's JUCO ranks (according to Golfstat's Nov. 6 update), a slight dip from his preseason top 100 ranking.

His Volunteers enter the 2020 spring as the preseason No. 12 team in the nation, seemingly poised for another run at the National Championship in Odessa, Texas come May.

"I'm looking forward to it," Golden said. "I enjoy playing with the teammates I have there, we have a good time going to tournaments and I think we're going to be a pretty good team this spring compared to last year. Especially when it gets closer to Districts and Nationals because we're more experienced this year as all sophomores. I'm looking forward to it."

In the brief 2019 fall outings the Volunteers debuted in the Rend Lake Preview, where they finished first out of seven competitors as a team. Golden placed first individually with a score of 142.

For Golden, having the decision out of the way heading into the spring was a huge relief. He said USI was a school that's always stood out to him, but he's happy to have the process over.

"I just wanted to get it out of the way and USI's always kind of been a choice. After taking a visit it seemed like a good fit. I can just go out next semester and play, have fun knowing I have all of this taken care of."

Golden said the proximity to home, connections in the area and his comfort with the program were factors in his decision. Golden also considered SIU, but had zeroed in on USI.

He was highly complimentary of USI Head Men's Golf Coach Grant Saylor, citing Saylor's recent playing experience as another reason for his decision.

"It's a little closer to home," Golden said. "I have some good friends that go there so those are some [reasons]. Golfing wise the coach is a little younger, which is what I wanted to go towards with wherever I went next. Just find a coach who's a little younger and he has playing experience recently. The way he described practices and how they run things there, everything seemed pretty legit."

Saylor was a two-time captain for the Screaming Eagles in his playing days. After graduating in 2017, Saylor was quickly elevated to the head coaching status in 2019.

Now, he'll coach the former Aces standout, who'll look to continue his golfing success for the NCAA Division II Screaming Eagles.

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