LaGrange boys and girls golf finishes second in area to qualify for state

Published 8:30 am Saturday, May 4, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Area 1-4A boy’s and girl’s golf tournaments went off without a hitch on Thursday as six teams punched their ticket to the state tournament. Hosted by Highlands Country Club and The Fields, respectively, the tournaments saw over a dozen teams descend on LaGrange for a hot day on the courses. 

“We have relied on The Fields more than ever this year and they have been such a gracious host and it’s a tough course to play,” said Ben Thrasher, LaGrange High’s golf director. “Highlands has always been great to us and we even had members helping us out on the course and helping me tally up scores.”

Both LaGrange and Troup High were represented with the former seeing both its boys and girls team finish area runner-up to qualify for state while the Tigers missed out on the cut.

Despite finishing runner-up and qualifying for state, the boys were left disappointed. The Grangers came into the tournament expecting big things on their home turf but shot 331 combined — the worst round they have played this season by four strokes.

“I have never seen our team struggle as bad as it did on Thursday since I’ve been here,” Thrasher said. “It was an extremely tough pill to swallow, but there is nothing we can do now but look ahead.

“When you finish second in the tournament, and you have a bad taste in your mouth, and you know, you played as poorly as you could possibly play. That’s still a testament to the caliber of golfers we have on our team, those guys are very capable of shooting 20 shots better or even 30 shots better than we shot [on Thursday].”

Now, LaGrange is determined to make sure disappointment does not boil over into frustration. The team is full of high-character players and a real family feel that Thrasher believes will bring this team even closer heading into state.

There were certainly some bright spots for the boys on the course. The Grangers were led by senior Ty Ormbsy and sophomore Charlie Pitts, who both shot 80 to tie for fifth place. Pitts has battled for one of the six rotational spots all season and put together what could be his strongest round of tournament golf so far.

“He is the number one bright spot out of the guys that played in the tournament,” Thrasher said. 

Ormsby, a senior, was in the hunt for low individual medalist until the very end.

“He had to take a drop in the trees and ended up making a double bogey on the last hole. Had he parred the last hole he would have tied for the low medalist and forced a playoff,” Thrasher said.

While his score did not count towards the overall team score for LaGrange, William Petrus put together a stellar round of 77 on Thursday.

Saxon Chastain shot an 84, Hugh Kersey shot 87 and Ben Woodham and Grady Westmoreland both shot 89. It was a remarkable show of will and fortitude that Westmoreland even showed up, much less play competitive golf after playing in a baseball playoff doubleheader in Wayne County on Wednesday evening.

“I don’t know what time he woke up to leave Jessup, Georgia, but he woke up early, drove three and a half hours from Wayne County after the baseball team just finished their series over there and had to get home and play golf, and walk 18 holes on the hottest day of the year. And on top of being emotionally and physically drained after losing those two games,” Thrasher said. “I can’t imagine the emotional roller coaster he was playing in those two games. He is a phenomenal asset to our golf program.”

The Grangers have eyes on the state tournament now that the program will host for the first time ever. Highlands Country Club, the home course for LaGrange, can be a punishing, yet rewarding course that will bring the best out of the young competitors.

Troup finished seventh overall with a score of 408. Freshman McCarty Harrelson led the way for the Tigers, shooting an 86. Kaden Milner had a strong showing as well, scoring an 88. Drew Pearson and Buseung Park shot 115 and 119, respectively.
The LaGrange girls put together one of their strongest performances of the year, finishing second to improve on last year’s third-place finish. The team just narrowly qualified for state in 2023, but finished 39 shots better than the fourth-place team this season.

“We really didn’t know what to expect with the girls because we haven’t seen most of these teams this season,” Thrasher said. “We knew that Starr’s Mill was the cream of the crop, they finished top four or five in state last year and are returning a lot of those girls, but we didn’t know what teams like Trinity Christian had. We went out there and posted a good number and it feels good for the girls to see their hard work pay off.”

One of the main reasons that LaGrange qualified for state last season was the play of Hudson Wood. This season, she was even better, shooting a 93 to lead the Grangers and shoot the third-lowest individual score of the day.

“Hudson was awesome. She did a great job. Just like last year, she was the low medalist for the team,” Thrasher said. “Last year she was also low medalist for us in the state tournament and played really well in both of those events last year and she’s done it again this year in the area. It just speaks highly of her athleticism and ability.”

A young group of girls is getting valuable experience. The team has just one senior, Carlee Roland, who is a part of the core five players. The Grangers will be looking to get their players some valuable experience again this season as the program continues to build with a young core.

“And again, we’re building momentum there, they continue to get better season by season and I’m really excited to see how that kind of maturation process looks at the state tournament,” Thrasher said.

Roland is a valuable asset to the team and with soccer season over, she can concentrate fully on golf as the team prepares for the state tournament that will be held at The Fields.

Junior Sydnee Jennings, who shot 104 to finish in 10th place on Thursday will be sorely missed at state as she has committed to an academy endeavor on the days of the state tournament. One of the younger and less experienced girls will have to step up in a big moment. 

Sophomore Caroline Brown finished ninth at the area tournament with a 103. Katie Hale shot 119 and both will be a part of the five that play at state.

“All these girls but Carlee played in state last year and I think that was a great experience for them and you can see how they’ve been able to build on that and get better event by event this year,” Thrasher said.

Troup had just one female golfer —- Madeira Sirmons —- who shot 122 and missed out on the cut to qualify for state as an individual.