BROOKLET – The golf season has wound its way down to just 16 more teams in each classification, and the Southeast Bulloch girls are one of the final schools standing in the hunt for the AA state title.
With their second place finish at the Region 3-AA championships in Vidalia last week, the Lady Yellow Jackets claimed one of the region’s two qualifying spots for the state tournament.
SEB was impressive at the region tournament, playing on the challenging course at Rocky Creek Golf Club. Although Vidalia was able to take the top spot, the Jackets’ team total placed them 11 shots clear of third place to easily secure the invitation to state.
Kirsten Smith, Taylor Fordham and Gloria Lingle make up the roster for the Lady Jackets, and all have had solid seasons.
“Kirsten is our senior leader,” said SEB coach Gene Eden. “She’s played for us all four years and has always been a solid performer.
“Taylor is a sophomore this year. At first, she didn’t think that she would be able to play. Halfway through the season, she decided to come and help us out. I’m certainly glad that she came on because she’s really helped us. Gloria is just a freshman, but she has really progressed and put up some good scores.”
This will mark the first time that an SEB golf team — boys or girls — has qualified for the state finals. Both teams have been progressing over the last few seasons, and the Lady Jackets were finally able to break through.
“The girls came very close last year,” said Eden. “We liked our chances, but one of our girls was sick during region and we didn’t have our best effort. Our guys have also been coming along very well, and this season was our best showing in my seven years here. Next year, Vidalia will move out of the region and Bleckley is graduating its top four players, so I think our guys can make a run.”
Even though this is the biggest stage that they have played on — and the longest trip that they have made for a competition this season — the Jackets are taking the same approach to their preparations.
“This will be a big test, but we’re prepared,” said Eden. “All of the girls’ families are traveling along, so we’ll go out to eat, play a practice round on Sunday, and stay relaxed. Then we’ll come out Monday ready to play.”
The AA state championship will be held at the Alpharetta Athletic Club Monday. Alpharetta Athletic is a long and tight course — differing vastly from SEB’s home grounds at Smithfield Golf Course.
With lots of out-of-bounds hazards and plenty of trees lining the fairways, emphasis will be placed on accuracy off the tees and consistent ball striking. Greater Atlanta Christian and Westminster call the course home and have posted some of the best team scores over the course of the season, but SEB is confident that it can put up a good showing.
“We’re happy to have qualified for state, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be content,” said Eden. “I’ve looked at the scores that we’ve posted through the year, and I think we’re on pace with most of the field. I’m confident that our girls will be prepared and go out and shoot some good scores.”
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.