A later start to the girls high school season and some school district limitations on tournaments and travel because of the pandemic have created an uneven start to the season.
The SC Golf Coaches Association have released their first statewide poll and it features some of the usual suspects, but some are in new classifications.
One early season tournament, the Palmetto Preview, gave an indication that Lexington, the top ranked AAAAA team, is as strong as ever.
The Wildcats finished second to Blythewood at last year’s state championship and the first ranking would seem to indicate they will again be the teams to beat in the AAAAA division.
The difference between the two neighboring Columbia area teams could be the return of Isabella Rawl. The future Clemson golfer, returned from a year long absence from injury, to help her team win the Preview title.
“Blythewood played great at state and we give them all the credit, but last year we never were at full strength. It is tough to win a state title when the defending individual champion (Rawl) misses the season,” said Lexington coach Brandon Smith.
Reclassification has made the AAA-AA-A classification even more competitive than it has been.
Last year Oceanside was the classification winner by a comfortable margin.
In the first ranking of the new season the Landsharks are not in the top-5. If the poll is correct the classification championship is wide open.
This year the defending AAAA champions from Daniel have been reclassified into the AAA-AA-A ranks adding another state championship caliber team to the classification.
The Lions won a playoff with AAAA Pickens at the Hurricane Invitational early in this season.
“We have three golfers back from our state championship team,” said Daniel coach Andy Swords. “We also have two girls who have just started playing golf and they are getting better in a hurry,” he said.
The prospect of defending their title in the AAAA classification this year was going to be difficult for Daniel, winning a championship in the combined AAA-AA-A classification could be even more difficult.
“Peyton O’Brien, Courtney Collins and Sarah Whitfield are back and we hope our new players keep improving all year,” said the Daniel coach.
Chesnee returns its entire team from their runner-up finish and start the season as the top ranked team in the classification.
The Eagles earned a hard fought playoff win over a top contender for the classification title when they topped Gilbert at the Greenwood Eagle Invitational.
“Our top two players Isabella Britt and Sydney Roberts have both had great summers and are playing well,” said Chesnee coach Kyle Scruggs. “Last year we had to battle with Oceanside and this year it looks like Gilbert is going to be really strong,” he said.
The reclassification also moved Wren High School into AAA-AA-A. Chloe Holder won the AAAA individual title last year and will be a contender for the AAA-AA-A title this year.
She recently won medalist honors at the Lady Hurricane Invitational shooting a 61 at Southern Oaks.
May River starts the year as the top ranked AAAA team in the poll.
As usual AC Flora from Columbia is near the top of the classification and Pickens appears ready to challenge for a state championship again.
High school enrollment determines a school’s classification. It is a major factor in large team sports like football, but size does not always yield a big advantage in golf.
The All Classification rankings of teams from all three classification shows that the coaches doing the ranking believes that the best smaller school teams can compete with the larger AAAAA squads.
The rankings could either see some major changes or teams could clearly fortify their position in the rankings at this weekends Women’s South Carolina Golf Association Foundation High School Invitational.
The top teams in the state are expected to battle at the 36 hole 2-day tournament played at the Country Club of South Carolina in Florence.