IN MOST other scenarios, a fourth-place finish at region would have a team finalizing its travel plans to state right about now.
Jackson County’s boys’ golf team, however, had the misfortune of placing fourth in a sport that only takes the top two teams out of each region for its state tournament.
The Panthers shot a school-record 331 Monday at the region tournament at Traditions to cap the best season in school history in what turned out to be their last match of the year.
But the future appears very bright for Jackson County golf.
“I am really happy for the men,” coach Warren Standridge said. “They are all back next year.”
The fourth-place finish at region set a new benchmark for the program. Standridge pointed to the Panthers’ many accomplishments this spring, including their stellar record in match play. Jackson County also fired a school-low 159 in a nine-hole match earlier this year.
“I was pleased to see us finish the season with an 18-3 record,” Standridge said. “We set a new school record around five or six times this year.”
As for Monday, Thomas Whitley shot a 74 to lead Jackson County at region. York Delloyd also posted a sub-80 round with a 79. Others scoring were Jared Scott (86) and River Bryant (92).
“We lost a couple shots coming in, but what a great season,” Standridge said. “(It’s) sad that golf is different from most sports that send the top four to state.”
This year’s region champion, Hart County (313), and runner-up, North Oconee (316), will advance to state.
Standridge said his group carried its solid play from the regular season into the region tournament.
“The 331 was actually below our team average for this year, so it was not like we choked,” he said. “We made the turn with a 162, three shots off the school record.”
NOTES: In addition to a standout year in varsity competition, Jackson County’s junior varsity team finished 5-1. “Coach (Jeff) Algard is my assistant coach and he did a great job this year with the JV,” Standridge said. … Standridge noted the assistance of Traditions of Braselton Golf Club, the team’s home course, in the Panthers’ success this year.