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Niceville's Inness Secures 400th Win With Girls Golf Team.

Mitch Inness came to Niceville High School in 1999 to teach and coach Basketball and Baseball. Growing up, he played Basketball, Soccer and Baseball. Golf wasn’t on the radar until later. “I pretty much taught myself to play,” he said.

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He would eventually find his niche coaching girls golf – and the move has paid dividends for the school.

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In a recent matchup that saw the Eagles face Fort Walton Beach, Choctaw, and Crestview’s Girls Golf Teams, Inness’ team racked up their 400th win for their coach.

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But he’s not exactly sure who the 400th win was against. Because of the format of Girl’s Golf in high school, where four teams play in a matchup, the 400th win could have been against either Fort Walton Beach, Choctaw, or Crestview.

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Inness and his team celebrate his 400th win.

Swinging through 2023

This year, Inness says the team has relied on seniors Gracie Grant and Cloe Rich to lead the Eagles on the fairways. He says the team has serious up-and-coming talent to backfill those spots at the top of the team with rising junior Cameron Lux and Ariel Kim, a freshman.

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The Eagles continue to succeed. In addition to their recent sweep of Choctaw, Fort Walton Beach, and Crestview, the team earned a second-place finish at the Miracle Strip Invitational. The fifteen-team field featured some tough competition on the links. But, Senior Gracie Grant was able to claim her second individual tournament win of the year with a six-under-par round – a record for the tournament.

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A Dynasty on the Bayou

In his time as head coach, Innes’ teams have finished Florida State Champions (in 2011) state runners-up many times – including the three previous seasons in a row. In total, the Niceville Girl’s Golf Team has a single state championship to its name and a total of seven state runners-

up awards during Inness’ career.

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“As far as my career highlights are concerned, they are really based on what the kids do,” Inness said, “I always try to put a light on what they’re doing because I wouldn’t have a record if it weren’t for the talented golfers I’ve had the opportunity to coach here in the last 21 years.”

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Inness has had some incredible players on his teams in years past, including Sharla Cloutier, who went on to play for the Princeton Tigers in the mid-oughts.

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He estimates more than 90% of his players can play at the college level – including the two seniors from last year’s teams doing just that. In addition – another Niceville Girls’ Golf Alumnae, Lauren Miller, is

competing in a qualifying school to join the Ladies PGA circuit.

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Other players have gone on to represent St. John’s, Florida State, Mississippi State, South Alabama, SMU, Troy, Southern Mississippi, West Florida, Arkansas State, Cinncinati, Flagler, and Florida Atlantic Universities.

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Going Forward

Coach Inness has had plenty of great memories in his nearly three decades of teaching and coaching – most at Niceville.

“There are too many [good memories] to county, but any time we finish in the top two in the state golf tournament, it’s great to see our little school from the panhandle get recognized statewide. ,” Inness said, “I’ve watched a lot of great athletes do great things on the golf course through the years.”

He believes he also has years of coaching the team ahead of him. “I have no plans to retire any time soon,” Inness said, “I would like to do both for 40 years, so long as I stay healthy. I feel like I can do that.”

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