---- — The Joe Leavitt Golf Express remains on track and on schedule.
It will just be stationed a little closer to home.
Atkinson’s Leavitt, the reigning Joseph F. Healey Memorial Champion, announced last week that he will leave Florida Southern after this, his freshman, year and transfer to the University of Rhode Island, a school that recruited him heavily out of Central Catholic High School.
“I’m still happy I came here to Florida Southern but, to me, it’s just more about getting closer to home,” said Leavitt, who will take his last final exam tomorrow and make the long drive back from the Sunshine State with his older brother Mike. “It was nice here, but it’s a small school and I think I’m looking for the big university size experience.”
At URI he will not have to sit out any time. He’s eligible to play immediately, and he’ll be rooming with a close friend and former Atkinson Country Club mate in Nick Fairweather.
Leavitt played in three tournaments over the year for Florida Southern, with his best finish coming in the first, the McLaughlin in New York.
“I’ve played OK all year, but I truly have to say my head was elsewhere,” said Leavitt, the 2011 Eagle-Tribune Golfer of the Year. “I don’t know. It was my first time playing golf year-round, and I think I got a little burnt out.”
At URI, Leavitt will be playing an extended season, but not year-round golf.
“Ultimately, playing year-round for my life is where I want to be,” said Leavitt, “Just not now.”
Leavitt says he got plenty out of the season in Florida, including a solid academic year in the books.
“We recruited Joe as a senior in high school and I always felt URI was the best place for him as a golfer and as a young man,” said URI coach Gregg Burke. “He comes from a great family and played junior golf in New Hampshire at a time when there were a dozen future Division I golfers in tournaments with him. With hard work, I believe he will end up as good or better than any of them.”
The reigning state amateur champion in New Hampshire, Leavitt will be ready to defend on all fronts.
“I met and played with a lot of good people at Florida Southern,” said Leavitt. “I’ve also improved my game. I’m ready to come back this summer and do some damage.”