The high school golf season began in South Carolina on Monday and everyone involved is hoping this season lasts much longer than last year.
The Red Raider Invitational was played at the Greenville Country Club’s Riverside course and 19 teams from the upstate started their seasons.
“We didn’t know it, but when we left here last year we had played half our season,” joked J.L.Mann’s long time boys coach Red Cook. “We played one more tournament and then everything got shut down,” he recalled.
The battle against the pandemic is not over and high school golf continues to take the recommended action to play safely.
Flags don’t come out of the hole, masks are worn when not competing on the course, hand shakes have become fist bumps and there are no gatherings for award ceremonies.
Boiling Springs won the 18 hole season opening tournament. The Bulldogs shot an 18-over par 302 total to edge out a pair of their Spartanburg County rivals.
“I was a little surprised by the scores today,” said Bulldog coach Josh Pruitt. “The conditions were difficult and that was part of the reason, but I was pleased my guys hung in there,” said the coach.
Dorman finished 1-shot behind the Bulldogs at 303. Spartanburg was third at 313 while Greenville shot a 314 to share fourth place with Mauldin.
The Bulldogs were led by sophomore Andrew Gregory who finished at 3-over par 74 to tie for 7th place with his teammate senior Zach Phillips.
Individually, Spartanburg’s Drew Harrill shot a 3-under par 69. The future Wofford golfer edged out Eastside’s Benton Leinster for medalist honors.
Future Gamecock golfer Nathan Franks from Dorman and Jay Wilkins from Mauldin tied for third at 1-over par 72.
After the season was cancelled many of the players were able to compete in SCJGA events or club tournaments. The Red Raider Invitational is the first real “high school tournament’ to be played since last March.
“We were pretty disappointed, like everyone else, when we couldn’t play last year. We have three players who are seniors who lost a season. The three have a lot of experience. They have all won tournaments and now we want to put it together for our team,” said the Bulldog coach.
Phillips, who will play college golf at USC Upstate next year won the Orange Jacket Classic and the Cheraw Fall Challenge.
Gregory brought home the first place trophy for his win in the George Holiday Memorial Junior at Myrtle Beach last December and Davis Hill has won three GSA Junior Tour events in the last two years.
“We have six golfers we can count on. It feels a little like days of old for us, but we need to go out and prove it now,” said Pruitt. Boiling Springs won four state championships between 2014 and 2017.
Without last year to use as a guide to preview the 2021 season, Pruitt has scheduled his team to play in a lot of tournaments this spring.
“We hope we will be able to get a grip on what the competition for state is going to be like and prep ourselves to have a good chance at the end of the year,” said the Bulldog coach.
Red Raider Invitational scores https://redraiderinvitational.golfgenius.com/pages/7163929142923149096