As the old sports analogy says, “if you look good you play good.” While the phrase would make any English teacher wince, it’s made Richmond Hill golf coach Russell Perry smile.
Thanks to a newly formed booster club and other local support, the Wildcats hit the links in 2016 for the first time with new uniforms and logoed golf bags. Those items were paid for by a booster club raffle of a Big Green Egg grill donated by Plantation Lumber.
Some 18 golfers came out for the team this year, including 10 freshmen. While there is only one girl on the team, Bailey Davis, Perry hopes more will join in the future.
“If you are a girl and can shoot in the low 40s (for nine holes), you will have your college paid for,” Perry said regarding the availability of college scholarships for female golfers.
For high school golf, six players participate in away matches and 10 in home matches. The four lowest scores are used for the team’s cumulative score.
The Wildcats opened with a loss at Sterling Links against Effingham and South Effingham. Richmond Hill shot 185, with Effingham and South Effingham shooting 178 and 166, respectively. Low scorers for Richmond Hill were: Fred Roberts (41), Jalen Murray (45), Joe Hill (49) and Landry Sutton (50).
The second match, also at Sterling Links, saw Savannah Christian shoot 159 to 174 for Richmond Hill. Low scorers were: Turner Stephenson (41), Blake Forbes (42), Murray (45) and Roberts (46).
The Wildcats earned their first victory against Satesboro (178), dropping their score to 165, a 20-stroke improvement from the beginning of the season. Low rounds were Stephenson (40), Forbes (41), Hill (42) and Roberts (42).
“This is a big improvement from where we started and now need to work on consistency,” Perry said.
The Wildcats continued with wins against Liberty County and Bradwell at the Cherokee Rose Country Club in Hinesville. Richmond Hill shot 162, led by Forbes (40), Murray (40), Stephenson (41) and Roberts (41).
Another loss to Savannah Christion, 161–177, followed. Low scorers were Roberts (40), Forbes (44), Murray (44) and Stephenson (49).
“It’s tough as Savannah Christian is laden with upper classmen and we are so young,” Perry said. “Our day will come.”
The team wraps up the regular season April 5 before the region tournament begins April 18.
“The players this year seem to work hard outside of practices and matches in working to get better more than in prior years,” Perry said. “They definitely seem to be vested in the program.”
Perry noted that practicing once a week at Ford Plantation with the staff there giving instruction has also helped the team.
“It’s nice to see that golf is more than just showing up for matches and playing,” said Richmond Hill Athletic Director Mickey Bayens. “It’s becoming a team sport that the high school can be proud to support.”