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Dover returns as Darton golf coach

Darton Director of Golf Dale Dover will resume his role as head coach of the Cavs.

Darton Director of Golf Dale Dover will resume his role as head coach of the Cavs.

ALBANY -- The Darton athletic department looked far and wide for a new head golf coach after Bill Jones III stepped down in June.

Turns out, Darton’s man had been there all along.

Darton Director of Golf Dale Dover, the architect of the nationally renowned junior college program, will take over as head coach, resuming the job he held from 2002-11.

“The old man is going to call the shots again,” Dover said.

Dover also confirmed that Dawson native and former Cavs golfer Gary Hilton was hired as an assistant coach and will be trained to eventually take over as head coach, but for now Dover is officially back in control of the program that he calls “my baby.”

“This program is very important to me,” said Dover, who admitted he never planned on jumping back into coaching after stepping away from the job two years ago. “That’s the reason I am doing what I am doing. That’s the reason I stayed. I didn’t want anybody to come in and make wholesale changes on how we do things. It’s one of those things, where if it’s not broke don’t fix it. The way we have been running our program has been successful, and I didn’t want to see the program go down. This has been my baby since the beginning.

“I want to do anything necessary to keep it a top program in the nation.”

Dover, who recently entered the NJCAA Golf Coaches Hall of Fame, led the Cavs to three NJCAA National Championships from 2005-07 and kept the team ranked near the top of the nation for the past decade. He had been serving as the interim head coach in the wake of Jones’ resignation over two months ago and, along with the administration, looked around the country for a suitable replacement at head coach.

Dover said nearly 30-35 people applied for the position, but for various reasons — including being handcuffed by monetary limits — Dover stayed on as coach and hired an assistant to take over the role that Jones held for several years before he became head coach in 2011.

“We looked at several people, and everything worked out with Gary,” said Dover. “We don’t have unlimited funds to hire people. We looked at several situations and a lot of resumes, and we had to hire somebody within the confines of what we could afford.”

It will be the first coaching experience for Hilton, who played for the Cavs from 2000-01 but wasn’t available for comment on Tuesday. Dover said his former player could ascend into the head coaching position in as soon as a year.

“It’s still to be determined, but I hope it works out for him within a year,” Dover said. “I am going to call the shots this year, but he is going to be included. He will have a lot of responsibilities. I will put him in charge or recruiting and in charge of academics.”

It’s exactly the way Dover groomed Jones before handing over the program the first time.

“On-the-job training is the best way to do this,” Dover said. “The best way to learn is by doing.”

Dover said Hilton, who met with the players on Monday and officially started on Tuesday, was a disciplined worker when he played at Darton over a decade ago.

“He was a really good guy and a personable guy,” Dover said. “He was very competitive. He was not a super player. He was just a good, solid player and he worked hard.

“Hopefully he can handle this new job and that this works out and he can be promoted.”

As previously reported by The Herald, the Cavs haven’t lost a single player or recruit in the aftermath of Jones’ departure and the search for a new coach.

“I felt like the players were comfortable with me being here,” Dover said. “If you just name anybody as the new coach, they might bail out. But they didn’t bail out when they found out we were going to do it this way. I told them the very first day when Bill left that at the very worst they would have me as the head coach.”

Sophomores Taylor Martin, Parks Brown and Taehyung Kim played on Darton’s region championship team last year, while sophomore Madison Turner will also be back.

The Cavs’ incoming freshmen include two-time Herald Player of the Year Tyler Shamblin from Seminole County, Athens’ Jake O’Bryan, Macon’s Seth Sanders, Englishman Josh Glossip and Ecuador native Raphael Miranda.