Created: Monday, December 3, 2012 8:23 p.m. CDT

CL Central golfer Harkins commits to North Carolina

CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake Central junior Lexi Harkins was quick to mention one factor regarding her commitment to North Carolina.

“I really like the warm weather for golf,” Harkins said.

There were several other favorable aspects about the Chapel Hill school for Harkins, who gave her commitment to Tar Heels coach Jan Mann on Monday. She will not sign an NCAA national letter of intent until November 2013.

Harkins started playing golf at age 6 and has authored an impressive résumé that includes third- and fourth-place finishes at the IHSA Class AA Girls Golf State Tournament. She was the Northwest Herald Girls Golfer of the Year in 2010 and shared the honor with Hampshire’s Connie Ellett in 2011.

Harkins did not compete for Crystal Lake Central’s co-op team this fall so she could concentrate on playing American Junior Golf Association tournaments and visiting potential schools. As a junior, her visits were unofficial and her family had to pay her way.

North Carolina was her pick over Illinois, Michigan State, Northwestern and Wisconsin. She had been to Chapel Hill as a sophomore and visited the school again two weeks before Thanksgiving.

“I really like the school’s size, their facilities and the coaches,” Harkins said. “It’s awesome. I’m really happy with my decision. Now that I know where I’m going, I can focus on playing golf and high school.”

Harkins began working with golf teaching professional John Swenson at the Crystal Lake Park District’s Lippold Park Family Golf Center shortly after taking up the game. She still works with Swenson, who now teaches at Timber Pointe near Poplar Grove.

“I got really serious around when I was 10 or 11,” Harkins said. “I knew I really wanted to work hard at this.”

Harkins hits at Golf Nation in Palatine in the winter months. She also received a berth in the AJGA ANNIKA Invitational in February in Reunion, Fla. She will play more AJGA events through the spring and summer and plans on returning to Central’s team in the fall.

“I think I will,” Harkins said. “I really liked being on the team, and I’ve missed it.”