Gardner Newman golf program progresses in first year under Platt

Published 12:28 pm Thursday, October 12, 2023

The Gardner Newman golf team is continuing to grow. Under first-year head coach Kelsea Platt, the Mustangs put together quite the season.

“It went really great this year,” Platt said. “We have 15 members of the team after having just eight last season, 

“The three that came back from last year’s team improved so much. Most of the team beside the three that played last year had never played competitive golf before.”

During tournament play, Platt can bring only six of her 12 boys. The growth of her team has left her with conundrums on who to take to each tournament. It is a good problem to have as she continues to recruit new faces into the program.

“A lot of them were playing golf for fun, and I just kept asking some of them to come out to the team,” Platt said. “We want to get them in the program as early as possible, so they can get used to tournament golf.”

The boys team finished second in the championship tournament behind Carrollton. 

“We actually had lost our match against Westminster at Highland (Country Club) the week before and we knew it would be close between them and us for second, and we took it,” Platt said.

The entire boys team put together a good run so far this year, but Drew Burch has been the real standout. He finished tied for third lowest medalist with a 43 at the championship tournament to go along with being named to the all-star team and the closest to the pin contest.

“He came just over five feet away from the pin,” Platt said. 

The girls team also had an all-star in Bailey Mitchell. Mitchell shot a 48 at the championship tournament. 

“She did awesome all season and finished second in the league,” Platt said.

Mitchell is a rising star for the LaGrange golf program, and Platt — the head coach of the girls team at the high school level — will get to coach her again at the high school level in the spring.

The two all-stars will play in the Callahan Cup in Columbus on Oct. 29.

“We are going to practice with LaGrange College to help them prepare for that,” Platt said. “I work with Shannon (Lipham) a lot, and he is a big help.”

Lipham, the head coach of LaGrange College’s golf team, said that Platt has been a huge asset for the Gardner Newman/LaGrange program.

Platt was also extremely proud of Emery Heard, who shot a 61 after learning to play golf for the first time earlier this year.

The other members of the boys teams that competed at the championship are David Keese, Andrew Terrell, AJ Griffith, Gardner Cain, Trace Bailey, Brady Hembree. The rest of the boys and girls rosters consists of Gwynn Weldon, Levi Butler, Reeves Wood, James Crawford, Sully Bright and Mickey Parker.

“They are all really great kids and we have a lot of fun together,” Platt said. “Just to see how all of them improved makes me so proud.

“I had a kid last year that finished second to last in the whole league and at the championship this year he was ninth. He improved tremendously because there are close to 40 kids in the league.”

The Mustangs season has concluded for all those that were named all-stars, but golf is not winding down for them. Practically the entire roster plays with friends in their spare time or will be a part of the LaGrange High teams in the spring.

“We have a lot of good golf talent coming through LaGrange, and most of them will be playing with the high school teams in the spring,” Platt said.