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Monday, June 17, 2024

John DuBois: From substitute to men’s golf national champion

After limited role early in his career, DuBois worked his way to become key piece on national championship team

Florida senior John DuBois lines up a putt in at the Vystar Credit Union Gators Invitational Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023.
Florida senior John DuBois lines up a putt in at the Vystar Credit Union Gators Invitational Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023.

Fifth-year senior John DuBois appeared in the lineup only three times his freshman year. In his senior season a year ago, he stood on the 18th hole of the national championship semi-final and made a putt that kept his team’s hopes for a title alive.

DuBois’ clutch performances down the stretch of the season helped gain the trust of his teammates and coaches. He proved he was the leader of the team after he sunk shot after shot in the most crucial moments of their national championship run.

Head Coach J.C. Deacon isn’t shy about the improvements DuBois has made.

“He’s worked really hard, he’s got a very well-rounded game now, and he’s made some of the biggest, most clutch shots that I’ve ever seen in my whole life,” he said.

In DuBois’ freshman year, he appeared in the lineup only three times. His best finish in a tournament was T31, and it didn’t appear he would have much of an early impact.

As a sophomore in 2021, DuBois made an appearance in the national championship as a substitute. Deacon knew DuBois had the potential to be back on the same stage in the future with a more significant role, he said.

“There were some signs along the way in some tournaments where he started competing at a high level that he realized he was good enough to play at the highest level of college golf,” he said.

The improvements in DuBois’ game did not happen overnight. He put the necessary work in to be in a role to help deliver a national championship for his team. DuBois has become reliable off tee and excellent with his putter, Deacon said.

Nobody knows more about the hard work it took to reach this amount of success than DuBois himself. The humble fifth-year senior said he had his doubts of being able to perform on the highest of stages.

“I absolutely did not think I would be [playing] in the national championship,” he said. “I was a substitute the whole season. I think it shows if you stay patient and have a lot of discipline that it can really pay off.”

DuBois arrived at UF as a talented freshman with raw ability. He used his early years in the program to soak in as much information from the upperclassmen as he could, he said. DuBois now finds himself in a senior leadership role for a team with a young up-and-coming roster.

“Whether I notice it or not, the younger guys are probably looking at me the same, so I’m trying to be a better leader and better person,” he said.

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DuBois’ teammates are well aware of the value he has brought to the program throughout his career. One of the most important aspects of the game of golf is staying level-headed. 

Sophomore Matthew Kress has noticed the influence that DuBois has had off the course as well as on it.

“Ever since I got here, John has always kind of been like the team dad almost,” Kress said. “He keeps all of us in line, and if we have personal stuff going on, we always go to John.”

It wasn’t a flawless season for DuBois in the 2022-23 campaign. He had a slow start, and it was unsure if he would be a key contributor down the stretch for the Gators. However, Kress saw the mental toughness his teammate exemplified while going through a tough stretch last season, particularly in a rough outing in one of UF’s Spring qualifiers, he added.

“He admitted ‘I wasn’t playing great, I was getting really emotional; that’s just not me,’” Kress said. “He came back from it, and it just seemed like the more pressure that was on him, the more calm he was.”

Kress envisions DuBois having the same role from a year ago when postseason play comes around. His experience playing in SEC and national championships will be something Kress will look to lean on, he said.

“This year we don’t have the firepower that we had at the top of the lineup,” Kress said. “There were a couple times last year where the team didn’t play too great, but we had one or two guys who played really well and saved us in tournaments.” 

DuBois was once a quiet freshman on an elite collegiate golf team. He has left his footprint on the program and will leave UF as an SEC conference champion and national champion. The road to success wasn’t an easy one, but DuBois always kept his cool no matter the circumstances. 

Now in his final year for the Gators, he will look to put together another historic campaign.

Contact Max Tucker Follow him on Twitter @MaxTuckerUF25.

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Max Tucker

Max Tucker is a junior transfer student at UF. After obtaining his A.A. in Journalism from Santa Fe College in 2023, he chose further his education at Florida's College of Journalism and Communications. Max is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Journalism with a specialization in sports and media. He enjoys golfing and going to the beach with his friends in his free time.

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