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Former Deerfield star, Herald Player of the Year Crews locks up golf scholarship at Coastal

Former Deerfield golf star and Herald Player of the Year Josh Crews, front row, center, is surrounded Thursday by friends, family and his personal coach — River Pointe golf pro and current Senior PGA Tour pro Sonny Skinner, back row, third from left — as Crews signs with Coastal Georgia. Crews was a rising force in the local golf scene before stepping away from the game, then rekindling his passion recently and landing a college scholarship. (john.millikan@albanyherald.com)

Former Deerfield golf star and Herald Player of the Year Josh Crews, front row, center, is surrounded Thursday by friends, family and his personal coach — River Pointe golf pro and current Senior PGA Tour pro Sonny Skinner, back row, third from left — as Crews signs with Coastal Georgia. Crews was a rising force in the local golf scene before stepping away from the game, then rekindling his passion recently and landing a college scholarship. (john.millikan@albanyherald.com)

ALBANY — There were moments when Josh Crews thought he would never play college golf — moments when the 2010 Albany Herald Player of the Year thought he had missed out on his dreams.

But it was the heartbreak that made Thursday’s signing with the College of Coastal Georgia all that more special.

Crews, who won a state title at Deerfield as a freshman before personal issues forced him to finish up high school in homeschool to address the problems, has bounced back in an incredible way and was joined by dozens of family members and friends Thursday afternoon at Doublegate Country Club as he signed a scholarship to play with the NAIA school in Brunswick.

“To go through all of that and still be able to play college golf is pretty sweet,” Crews said. “It makes me want to (succeed at Coastal Georgia) even worse.”

River Pointe Golf Course pro Sonny Skinner, who has been Crews’ personal coach since the eighth grade, has no doubt the 2010 GISA Class AAA individual state champion will succeed in Brunswick.

“These next four years are going to be some rewarding years for Joshua,” said Skinner, who is currently playing select events on the Champions Tour and is the only club pro to win both PGA of America and Senior PGA of America Player of the Year awards. “It’s going to be a lot of work involved, but he is going to a good place in Brunswick. He is going to have access to some of the best instruction in the state, if not the best. He should be able to develop quite nicely.”

Crews has won three tournaments in the past year-and-a-half, including the Georgia Junior PGA Championship in December of 2011. He also finished second in four Southeastern Junior Golf Tour tournaments since 2011 and won the SJGT Doublegate Junior Classic last August.

The moment Skinner saw him swing a club five years ago he knew Crews was a special golfer.

“Joshua was a good player in the eighth grade and won the state championship as a ninth-grader, so I can’t take credit for that,” Skinner said. “I can’t take credit for any of it. All I can take credit for is the friendship and the opportunity to tell him about some of my experiences I have learned about the game along the way in hopes it will make his journey a little easier.”

Crews, who also had interest from Valdosta State, Clayton State and Austin Peay (Tenn), will finish up his GED this summer and then take his talents to Brunswick in the fall — a journey he credits to the collection of friends and family who were all there to support him Thursday.

“There were so many people that helped me, not just one person,” he said. “They are proud of me that I could get through everything and still get through school and go play golf in college.”