Considering there aren’t any seniors on Dalton High School’s girls golf team, Monday’s showing offers reason for excitement.
And while Southeast Whitfield’s Megan Collins wasn’t thrilled with her 9-over-par 81, she still departs from her high school career as one of the state’s best.
Dalton finished third out of the 16 teams competing at the Class 4A state tournament at Nob North Golf Course. Collins, a senior, finished in the same spot individually in a 73-golfer field.
Carrollton’s Lady Trojans won the state title with a dominant 250 in the four-play, three-count scoring format — and the team’s Sydnee Needham was the tournament’s medalist, shooting a 74 with a par 36 on the back nine — while Columbus was second with a 263. Northwest Whitfield, the host for the tournament, finished 12th with a 304 and Collins’ Lady Raiders finished tied for 13th with a 326.
Carrollton finished second in Class 3A last season and finished second to Columbus in Region 5 this year but shot a 251 at the sectional tournament to qualify for state.
“We threw the target number out there for teams following us,” Carrollton coach Scott Morris said of the performance at sectionals. “We were hitting on all cylinders. We bettered our score (at state), which is what we were after.”
Morris’ squad competed at Nob North in this year’s and last year’s Lady Bruin Invitational — and won both times — so he and the Lady Trojans were somewhat familiar with the course. Still, they felt local teams like Dalton, Northwest and Southeast had an advantage.
“We obviously played it intentionally this year because we knew state would be here,” Needham said. “... We were worried about teams from around here, but we felt we were comfortable enough here, too.”
Sunday’s rain reduced how much roll each drive had, but tournament organizers set that off by moving the tees up to reduce each hole’s distance. In some ways, the damp surface helped. Carson Roberts, who shot a 90 to lead Dalton, said there were numerous holes when she hit right at the pin knowing the ball would stick to the green.
“I shot a 48 on the front nine, which was awful,” said Roberts, a freshman. “But I came back with a 42 on the back. I had four putts lip out. ... (The wet conditions) helped on some holes. There were a few where my second or third shot was deep in the water (but still in play).
“We could use a full club length (away from casual water to play fairway shots), but it didn’t really help.”
Roberts’ teammates — Mable McKone, Ashleigh Peters and Olga Fouche — also should return. McKone (91) and Peters (95) are sophomores, while Fouche (99) is a junior. Dalton won Region 7-4A this season.
“It’s exciting,” Lady Cats coach Nancy Hallsworth said. “And truthfully, they left strokes out there. ... They moved the tee boxes, and the first few holes caught them off guard because they knew what clubs they were used to shooting. They made the right call for the course conditions.”
Collins shot an 82 at the Region 7-4A tournament last month to help Southeast to sectionals, where the Lady Raiders and Lady Bruins did well enough to earn a spot at state. At state, Collins started on the back nine and shot a 42 but finished with a 39 on the front nine.
Heritage-Catoosa’s Rachel Rebne also shot an 81.
“I just wanted to play well and I felt I didn’t play my best,” Collins said. “There were quite a few holes where I missed putts that I shouldn’t have.”
Bethany Reddix (110) and Hannah Dempsey (135) also scored for Southeast, which also had Victoria Bailey (152) compete.
Marlee Bingham (92) led Northwest, which also received counting rounds from Alicia Cole (106) and Dallas Coker (106). Emilee McKinney (109) also competed.
“The whole idea behind this season was to get to state,” Lady Bruins coach John Linder said. “That’s everyone’s goal. ... The scores would’ve been better if the weather cooperated more (Sunday). We weren’t able to get the roll we’re used to.”
Cairo’s Kayla Wilbourn (78) competed as an individual and was the tournament’s runner-up. Veterans (292) finished fourth, followed by Burke County (293), Madison County (293), Heritage (294), Wayne County (295), Fayette County (298), Johnson-Gainesville (298), Mary Persons (298), Northwest, Lumpkin County (326), Southeast, Richmond Academy (328) and Marist (357).