• Columbia golf coach Krishton Neeley watches his team play during a match last season at Country Club at Lake City. Neeley resigned after coaching two seasons at CHS as he recovers from surgeries from December (FILE).

BOYS GOLF: Neeley steps down, Barber takes over

CHS changes coaches as Neeley recovers from multiple surgeries.

Shayne Barber has accepted an offer to be the next boys golf coach at Columbia.

With the 2018 season only weeks away, the former CHS golfer will take over the program immediately, pending school board approval. The school's coaching change comes in the wake of the Krishton Neeley's resignation. Neeley decided to step down while he still recovers from extensive surgeries conducted last December. The former CHS coach says he'll miss the boys he helped groom over the last two seasons.

"I love those guys," said Neeley, who teaches PE at Eastside Elementary. "I still text a lot of them and check up on them. I plan to be out there and helping Shayne out in his first year. What a home run hire that was – when you think of the name Barber, you think of golf in Lake City."

Barber, the younger brother of PGA golfer Blayne Barber, says he's excited for the challenge. The former high school standout looks to pick up where Neeley, 28, left off and aims to elevate his new team, both on and off the golf course.

"For one, I always loved to be around golf," Barber said of why he accepted the position. "Looking back at what I did in high school and how my career started great (before) going downhill for him. Senior year I kind of stopped caring about golf and caring about the wrong things…Just have the opportunity to help some of these kids and basically just help them with doing the right things… I want to see
them not make the same mistakes I did my senior year."

Barber, 25, enters his first season with little coaching experience. But the Lake City native is confident he'll do well – especially with the support of his golf-loving family, and other varsity coaches in the area. Barber, who works for an industrial company based in Jacksonville, won't be alone either in his first campaign. Neeley has offered to assist his successor while he gets acclimated this coming season.

"There's a lot of little stuff people don't really pay attention to," Neeley said. "It's not just coaching – there's physicals, permission slips, fundraising, scheduling – so I'm going to help him get started….He's going to be able to do so much more for those boys than I could. He's got the PGA Tour connection through his brother and the friends that's he's made (and) he can help them with their swings better than I can."

CHS boys golf team finished in fourth place out of seven teams during the District 2-3A tournament last October. There is an interest meeting scheduled for next Thursday at 5:30 p.m. for those who consider joining the team. The team will hold its first official practice July 30 and is slated to open the season versus Clay Aug 23.

"I'm so excited, just to get going," Barber said.

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Lake City Reporter

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