Local golf promising for this week’s sectionals, beyond

Published 5:06 pm Monday, April 27, 2009

Only one local golf team is competing in a section tournament this week, but the future of the sport in the area appears promising nevertheless.

Chilton County enters the Class 5A, Section 2 tournament with perhaps its best chance to advance to the sub-state round of the playoffs for the first time in coach David Moore’s three seasons. Two Isabella players, sophomores Brendan Fletcher and Clayton Pitts, will compete individually and no Jemison players will participate in their sectional.

CCHS will take a team of five—Matt Moore, Blake Jenkins, Forrest Knight, Chase Parrish and Ivan Truss—to Musgrove Country Club in Jasper at 9 a.m. Tuesday, and a sixth player, Patrick Norman, will compete individually.

Moore said he is hopeful after most of the Tigers played a practice round on April 26 at the sectional site. Knight had the best practice round with a 3-over 74.

“We should be good enough to make the next round,” Moore said. “Some of the course is wide open and forgiving like we’re used to playing on, but some of the fairways are tight.”

The country club also features greens that play faster than those at CCHS’s home course, the Clanton Country Club, and Moore said chipping would be a point of emphasis during Monday’s practice.

The top four teams in the 13-team section will advance to the sub-state playoff round.

Jemison won’t play in its sectional despite a strong finish to the season.

Junior and No. 4 player Zac Langston shot the team’s best round in two of its last three matches, and sophomore and No. 3 player Matt Nolen wasn’t far behind. Langston and Nolen cut about six strokes off their scores this season, coach Kelly Smitherman said.

Both of the top two Panthers, junior Andy Mims and sophomore Garin Hayes, will return next year, so Smitherman said he is optimistic about the team’s future.

“We’re hoping to add two more guys next year, and I think we have a chance to be pretty good,” Smitherman said.

For Isabella, Fletcher and Pitts have improved steadily over the course of the season, coach Chris Baker said, and will likely serve as the program’s foundation for the next two years.

“I’m hoping we can get at least one of them to state,” Baker said.

That would require a top-four individual finish at the Class 1A-2A, Section 1 tournament at Ol’ Colony Golf Complex in Tuscaloosa. Twelve other teams will also compete.

Baker said Fletcher and Pitts looked good during a practice round at Ol’ Colony last week, but the most significant reason for optimism might be the pair’s finish at a three-team match at the Montevallo Golf Club on April 20.

Pitts had the day’s best round, a 40, and Fletcher was third with a 47.