Photo by John Cornell

Photo by John Cornell

BRUNSWICK -- The website for the College of Coastal Georgia features a logo that includes a slogan that reads "Dreams in Action."

And if the school were to ever decide to make a commercial that spotlights students who are living out their dreams at the longtime junior college that has been transitioning to a four-year school the last few years, Christian Liggin would certainly be the poster child for the ad.

The former Lee County standout golfer, 2010 Albany Herald Player of the Year and current freshman star for the budding school on the Georgia coast is without question a great example of someone turning dreams into reality. And Liggin is the first to admit that the opportunity that has been presented to her as student-athlete on the college level has far exceeded anything she might have dreamed up coming out of high school.

"The atmosphere is perfect. I really like it," Liggin said of the Brunswick college. "It's where any good golfer would want to be. We have everything we need here, and I like the school also. It's not huge. Everyone knows everyone. It's kind of what I was used to coming from Lee County. It's comfortable for me."

And Coastal Georgia coach Mike Cook, who oversees both the first-year women's and men's programs at the school, is certainly glad Liggin is on the Lady Mariners' roster.

As the team's No. 1 player in the lineup on the four-person squad made up of all freshmen golfers, Liggin has led the Lady Mariners to a No. 10 ranking in the latest NJCAA poll and a berth in the four-round Division II National Championship tournament, which opens today at the Legends Course at LPGA International Golf Club in Daytona Beach, Fla.

"She just loves to compete," said Cook, who is also a teaching pro at the world-renowned Sea Island Golf Club. "She's not afraid to tee it up and play against the best. She doesn't get nervous. She's focused and all business."

Liggin has posted stellar scores for the Lady Mariners all season. During the regular season, she finished in the Top 15 in all six tournaments she competed in with a best finish of sixth in the Coastal Georgia Invitational.

Her best effort, though, came three weeks ago when Liggin captured low medalist in the three-day Rregion XVII Tournament on Jekyll Island after bouncing back from a first-round 87 to shoot 77 and 79 in the closing two rounds to finish at 243 and win by three shots.

"It was exciting," she said of winning low medalist honors. "It's something else I can say I accomplished as a freshman. But region was really the best tournament for all our players, not just me."

The 77 Liggin fired in the second round tied her low score of the season that she had posted three other times, while it also led the Lady Mariners to the overall team title in the program's inaugural season. A lot of golfers would love to post that score just once, but not Liggin, who has high expectations for herself.

"I feel like I am good enough to shoot par and haven't," she said. "But I'm not really disappointed. Competing on a higher level is difficult and we've been competing against schools a lot bigger than us. My game is getting close to where it needs to be, and hopefully by next year, it will be there."

What's funny is that Liggin is talking about a future with a team that will move up to the NAIA level next season and one she almost didn't join after completing a high school career that saw her win three individual region titles and twice earn nods as a Class AAAA All-State player.

Last spring, she was just days away from signing with Columbus State University, an NCAA Division II school, when a voice mail from Cook was left on her phone. Cook had heard of Liggin through a friend and wanted the Lee County golfer to come to Brunswick for a visit.

Next thing you know, she was in town hitting balls in front of her soon-to-be coach, touring the Sea Island facilities and also the college campus.

Cook was sold on Liggin in almost no time -- and she, too, immediately liked what she saw also.

"She hit five balls and I knew I'd sign her," said the coach, who eventually made Liggin the program's first official signee.

So, what impressed Liggin so much that she verbally committed that same day? When posed with the question, she looked out across the practice tee at Sea Island, one of the facilities the team regularly uses, and smiled.

"This is top-notch," she said. "People from all over the world come here to play and get lessons, and we're here almost every other day. We're spoiled."

Sea Island and the other amazing courses the Lady Mariners play are attractive, but so was the school, Liggin said. She currently plans to pursue a degree in nursing, which is among the first four-year degree programs being offered at Coastal Georgia.

She also has been impressed by the community and the people, including local residents and college supporters Jack and Mary Dinos, who endowed a golf scholarship that Liggin was fortunate enough to receive this fall.

"They're really nice people. I've enjoyed meeting and getting to know them. I've been to lunch and played golf with them," Liggin said. "But the whole community is supporting us and the school has been really supportive, too. A lot of people are pulling for us."

And Liggin and her teammates hope they can close with a bang and deliver a performance at nationals that will make everyone proud at the end of a season that has already been a successful -- and history-making one for this first-year operation.

"It's going to be a good experience," Liggin said of playing at nationals. "We're really excited and hope we can do well. It would bring a lot to the school if we could."

And that's on top of what Liggin's already brought.