Now in his second year as Florida Southern’s head men’s golf coach is Lee White, who has spent a total of nine years with the program as a student-athlete and member of the coaching staff. White took over as the Moccasins’ head coach in August of 2018 following the retirement of Doug Gordin after serving as Gordin’s assistant for four years.
In his first season in charge of the Moccasins, White was tasked with keeping the program among the nation’s elite following not only the retirement of their long-time former coach, but the graduation of two All-Americans who were among the best athletes to ever play at Florida Southern. Not only did White accomplish that, the Moccasins again excelled in the postseason by reaching medal play at the NCAA Division II National Tournament for the fifth year in a row, and at least the semifinal round for the fourth straight season. White also coached Michael VanDerLaan to the 2019 individual national title, the 10th in team history, which made Florida Southern the first Division II team to have four such winners in a single decade.
Florida Southern finished fourth in the stroke play portion of the national finals with a two-over-par 866, the fifth lowest score in 40 all-time trips to the national tournament. With VanDerLaan winning the tournament at nine-under-par, and Christian Anderson placing fourth at four-under-par, the Moccasins had two top-five finishers at the national finals for the first time in 18 years. That gave the Mocs at least one top-five golfer at the finals for the seventh year in a row. The Mocs then defeated Trevecca Nazarene in the national quarterfinals before falling to Lincoln Memorial in the semifinals.
Another streak that continued under White was Florida Southern impressive run of All-Americans. With VanDerLaan a first team member and the Arnold Palmer Award winner for Division II, and Anderson an honorable mention selection, the Moccasins had at least one All-American men’s golfer for the 15th year in a row. Both VanDerLaan and Anderson earned that honor for the first time in their respective careers. A third member of the roster, Max Coutsolioutsis, added his name to the list of postseason award winners as the Sunshine State Conference Freshman-of-the-Year.
During his time as assistant coach, which spanned two seasons from 2012-14 and two more from 2016-18, Florida Southern won the 2017 NCAA Division II National Championship and advanced to medal play at the national finals on two other occasions. The 2018 Moccasins also posted a 283.36 stroke average, their best on record, won four tournaments during the regular season, and were the Sunshine State Conference and South/Southeast Super Regional runner-up.
In addition to Florida Southern’s success as a team, White assisted in the development of two-time individual national champion Tim Crouch, 2018 national champion John VanDerLaan, and three-time national top-five finisher John Coultas. VanDerLaan and Coultas completed their college careers as four-time All-Americans who participated in four consecutive national championship tournaments, with each winning national player-of-the-year honors once.
White was also recognized by the Golf Coaches Association of America as a finalist for the 2018 Jan Strickland Award, which is presented annually to the NCAA, NAIA, or NJCAA assistant coach that has excelled in working with their student-athletes both on the course and in the classroom. White was the only Division II finalist that year, and the first in more than a decade.
White was a student-athlete at Florida Southern from 2008-12 who played his best golf as a senior when he helped the Moccasins to a runner-up finish in the SSC Tournament and was their top finisher at the super regional. He was second on the team in stroke average that year and ended his college playing career by placing in the top-20 in four of his last five tournaments, including the 2012 super regional where he was 19th.
Originally from Bartow, Florida, White’s playing career includes a long list of high finishes in various amateur and professional tournaments throughout Florida. Among the highlights were co-medalist honors at the 2007 Men’s State Amateur Qualifier, championships at the 2010 and 2012 Polk County Amateur Tournaments, and a runner-up finish at the 2012 West Florida Pro Golf Tournament while competing as an amateur. Since 2013, he has had five top-20 finishes on either the NGA Hooters, the West Florida Golf, or the Moonlight Golf Tours, with two of those in the top-10.
White is just the third man in the last 48 years to lead the nation’s most successful NCAA Division II men’s golf program. He follows Charley Matlock (1972-95) and Gordin (1995-18), who combined to lead Florida Southern to 13 national championships, the most in Division II history.