Before the Georgia High School Association’s Class 4A boys state tournament began Monday at Dalton Golf & Country Club, area coaches who have seen teams throughout the years play the course expected a low number to take the title. But no one saw what was coming from Marist.
Five War Eagles golfers shot under par for a team score of 279, 18 strokes better than runner-up Richmond Academy. Freshman Will Chandler led the way for Marist as the tournament’s medalist with a 6-under-par 66, while four other players shot a 71. In the six-play, four-score format, one of those scores didn’t even figure into the team’s final tally.
The number the War Eagles posted on the leaderboard has gained national recognition as well. A blog post linking readers to The Daily Citizen’s coverage of the event was posted on Sports Illustrated’s golf.com website.
As the runner-up at 297, Richmond Academy hit the number most area coaches thought would win the tournament. Both Dalton’s Chad Jordan and Northwest Whitfield’s Jim McGrew expected the winning score to be between 295 and 300. For the rest of the field, Jordan and McGrew were correct.
Marist was outside of the field. Way outside.
And the rest of the field was impressed, but none too happy about it.
“They will have five of the six players on the all-state golf team, and that goes to show you what they have and what they draw to their school,” said Silas Ledford, who was one of three Northwest golfers who shot a 78. “That is what happens with those private schools that can recruit. There is no competing with that. I have never seen anything like that.”
Said Dalton’s Jacob Brown, who led the Catamounts with a 75, “To have to throw out a 1-under on your card because that is too high is just ridiculous. No one was going to touch them.”
Even Marist coach Jeff Decker was surprised.
“It was just one of those crazy days where everything came together more perfectly than you could have planned it,” he said. “Four of them had their career bests today, and all six came together like a perfect storm.”
While Marist’s score was quite impressive when comparing it to the field, a quick look at the GHSA archives since 1989 shows that others have come close, but very rarely.
Most years, a state title can be claimed with a scored in the low 300s to the high 290s.
In 2009, both Peachtree Ridge and Aquinas posted totals of 282. Since ’89, Dalton has won five state titles. The lowest team score in that run came in 1998 with a total of 291. Vance Embry (69), Beau Bray (72), Reid Arnold (73) and Kyle Chaffin (77) scored for that title-winning team.
• LOCAL CONNECTION: The Marist team has 15 golf members listed on the school’s website, but the team’s best player — Chandler — has Dalton ties.
Will’s grandfather, Carter Chandler, called the newspaper after the state championship to share his beaming pride of his grandson. According to the elder Chandler, the family descends from I.V. Chandler, who was the founder of the Patcraft Mill in Dalton. Now a subsidiary of Shaw Industries, Patcraft still has a Chandler working in the company. Will’s uncle, Bob Chandler, also works for the company, Carter Chandler said.
Will is the son of Ricky and Beth Chandler, and his maternal aunt and uncle are Anna and Darrell Hagan, who both work for Shaw.
Following his success in the state high school tournament, Will look for an even more prestigious title when he returns June 17-19 to compete in the Georgia State Golf Association’s Junior Championship at The Farm.
• LOCAL TOURNAMENTS: Wednesday is the entry deadline for the 62nd Annual North Georgia Invitational at Dalton Golf & Country Club. The tournament will run Saturday through Sunday, with the field limited to 136 entries.
At Nob North, the club’s match play tournament begins Saturday. Players will get 80 percent of their handicap, and all matches have a two-week window in which they may be played. The event runs throughout the summer, but the registration deadline is Monday. Also, Nob North will hold its U.S. Open Shootout tournament on June 8. The entry deadline for that event is June 2.
• THIS AND THAT: Entries close for the Junior Championship and Georgia Girls Championship on Wednesday. The latter is open to female golfers between the ages of 9-17 and will be at Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek; all players must have USGA handicaps. The boys tournament is for ages 14-17. They’ll play 54 holes with the field cut after two rounds of play. For more information or to enter, visit www.gsga.org. ... This is the last week to register for the Nob North junior clinic for ages 7-19 on June 3-5. The cost is $60 and the camp will last from 9 a.m. to noon each day. Call the pro shop at (706) 694-8505 for more information. For more information on camps and benefit tournaments, be sure to check out the Local Sports Calendar on page 4B.
“Fairways and Greens” is a regular feature of The Daily Citizen focusing on local golf news and notes. If you have an item you would like included, contact sports writer Chris Whitfield at firstname.lastname@example.org.