Clayton State's Harwell resigns
Lakers won first Peach Belt Conference title under Harwell
MORROW, Ga. – After five years of considerable success, Clayton State golf coach Barry Harwell announced his resignation on Friday. He is leaving the Lakers to take over as the golf coach at West Georgia in his hometown of Carrollton.
Clayton State Athletic Director Mason Barfield praised Harwell for his hard work and efforts in making the Clayton State men’s golf program competitive again since his arrival in the summer of 2006.
“We are very grateful to Barry for taking over our golf program and taking it to another level,” said Barfield, who will start a national search shortly to hire Harwell’s replacement. “That includes the program’s first conference championship and a Top-10 finish at the NCAA Tournament. I know he will do a great job at West Georgia as he works hard to bring the Wolves to same level as he did here at Clayton State.”
After building the foundation during Harwell's first season in 2006-07, the next two seasons were definite "breakthrough" seasons for Clayton State men's golf.
The 2008-09 Laker season was one of the best seasons for the program in nearly a decade. Clayton State won one tournament in the spring - the Matlock Invitational in Lakeland, Fla. - and also enjoyed two second-place finishes combined in the fall and spring.
The high point, however, was Clayton State's first Peach Belt Conference championship as the Lakers overcame a six-stroke deficit on the final nine holes to win the title by five strokes. Individually, Wade Binfield became the second consecutive Laker to win the individual Peach Belt Conference Tournament championship, firing a 6-under par 210. In addition, Will Wilcox became the Lakers' first Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year.
Despite a disappointing finish at the NCAA Division II South/Southeast Super Regional, Harwell's Lakers still finished 14th in the final PING/Nike Golf Division II Top 25 Coaches' Poll.
In 2007-08 Clayton State captured two team championships - the Southbridge Pirate Invitational and the Orchard Fall Invitational, as well as a runner-up finish to South Carolina-Aiken at the 2008 Peach Belt Conference Tournament. Individually, Wilcox also captured the program's first individual PBC championship with an 8-under par 206.
Harwell's Lakers followed up the strong PBC finish with a solid fourth-place finish at the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional, earning their first NCAA Division II National Championship berth since 1999. Clayton State placed 10th overall at the 2008 NCAA Division II National after leading the field with a 7-under 273 during the first round. For the season, Clayton State was ranked in the Golf World/Nike Golf Division II Top 25 Coach's Poll, finishing 20th in the final ranking for the second-highest ranking in school history.
Under Harwell, Clayton State produced eight individual tournament champions, plus a three-time Division II All-Southeast Region and a three-time Division II All-American. Wilcox became Clayton State's first Division II first-team All-American in 2008 and the first Laker to garner All-Peach Belt Conference honors since 2000. He repeated both honors again in 2009, becoming the only three-time All-American in the history of Clayton State men's golf.