Flagler golf picks up new assistant coach

By Kaitlyn Edwards | gargoyle@flagler.edu

J.L. Smith may be exactly what the men’s and women’s golf teams needs for the spring season.

Smith looks to assist Head Coach Santiago Cavanagh this season, coaching both golf teams. He met Santiago seven years ago when they played in a mini tour event together.

In high school, Smith was asked by his high school coach to be the eighth man on the golf team. He won the individual state championship by the time he was in eleventh grade and his team won the championship his sophomore through his senior year.

Smith walked onto his college team and realized he wanted to take golf to the next level and play professionally. In 1969 he opened his first women’s clothing shop, and later added two more stores. He was also one of the founders of the Junior Program for the Georgia State Golf Association.

Smith turned professional in 1996 and later retired from the tour in 2008. While he was on tour he won several mini tour events such as the Hooters tour event. Smith’s scoring average while on tour was a 72.0.

“My favorite part about being on tour was getting to travel the world and the competitiveness,” Smith said.

Smith moved to Florida five years ago and resides in the World Golf Village area. He has three sons that are all in the golf industry and share the same passion for the game.

Debbie, his wife of 8 years, is very supportive of all of his golf accomplishments.

“Debbie is a great grandmother, loves golf, and has been an amazing blessing to my life,” he says. “We have walked over 300 different golf courses in the US,” he said.

Smith coached high school golf for twelve years but believes coaching Flagler Golf is his dream come true.

“It is very rewarding to be part of this first class athletic department,” Smith said. “Watching the boys’ last tournament, they all fix their divots, rake the sand traps, and have a great attitude while playing.”

Women’s team member, Laura Martellino, said Smith is already making a positive impact on the team.

“J.L. has been a great addition to the team. Not only does he have experience, but he brings a whole new way of teaching us, which we have already benefited from,” Member of the women’s team, Laura Martellino said.

Smith expressed a goal for both teams that reflects his passion for the game.

“My goal this season is to make sure each player plays to their ability and feels good about their effort,” Smith said.

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