A good example

Three years ago, women’s golfer Christina Jones didn’t think she’d be at USF. Jones’ plan was to play golf for the University of Miami.

Luckily for USF, Jones changed her plan.”I had my mind set on going to Miami. Then I visited USF and I really liked the campus. I got along with the everyone, and I felt there was a great team camaraderie,” Jones said.

It seems as though Jones might have made the right decision. Last season as a sophomore, she posted a team best 75.7 stroke average while winning two tournaments along the way.

On Feb. 20, Jones tried to defend one of those titles at the Papa John’s Intercollegiate, finishing fourth while leading the team to a strong third place finish. Players and coaches know Jones’ value to the team.

“Christina and Jessica Buchta are our leaders. They are a great one-two punch,” coach Kelly Lagedrost said. “Christina is very tough competitively. She has a strong mental game and a great swing as well. It’s a great recipe for success.”

Jones is friends with many girls on the team, and lives with fellow teammate Mary Calderon. Jones is aware of her responsibilities as a leader. “I feel I am a leader on the team. I try to set good examples for the freshmen and the other players on the team,” Jones said.Lagedrost said she is thankful to have Christina not only because of her great play, but also because she is a great teacher.

“Just the other day she helped out Carolina (Romero), a freshman on our team, with her grip. The next thing I know, Carolina just started striking (the ball) right down the middle,” Lagedrost said.

Jones, a native of Stuart, misses being away from her family. Her sister, Ashley, is also a student-athlete, playing softball at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Her parents, Skip and Karen, come to many of her tournaments.

Jones’ father introduced her to golf 10 years ago.

“My dad got me interested in golf. He loves to practice and go to the driving range with me,” Jones said. “I get to see them a few times each semester when we’re on the road, which is really nice.”

Jones said the team’s goal is to make it to nationals and do well, which she believes is attainable. Her personal goal is to remain consistent and begin to play at a higher level.

“Last year was probably my best season so far,” Jones said. “I still haven’t gotten to the point where I’ve consistently played awesome. It’d be nice to do that, and I’m putting in a lot of practice time to get there.”

Christina plans to graduate with a business degree next Spring. After that, she is unsure whether she will pursue a professional golf career.

Lagedrost, who played in the LPGA before taking the job as the USF women’s golf coach, said she considered coaching when she was a player. Jones said she has thought about the same thing.

“I think coaching would be a lot of fun,” Jones said. “I know when you have a family, it’s kind of hard because you’re always with the team and traveling all the time. You never know, though. It is a possibility one day.”