Last season, the Commerce boys’ golf team came close to a state championship.
And after finishing third at the Class A State Tournament in 2013, the Tigers naturally enter this season with high expectations. Last year’s success has raised Tigers’ overall confidence heading into this season, and the four returning Tiger golfers now realize that a state title could be a reality.
“The guys that are on the team now, that got close last year — they now see that goal (of winning a state championship) attainable,” said Commerce head coach Matthew Lund.
Dalton Dean is the sole senior returning his talents to the Tigers this season. The sophomore trio of Sage Culpepper, Andrew Latham and Wesley Counts returns to the Commerce lineup, along with newcomer Wade McMahon.
Lund says he has great expectations of his young team moving forward and that they are continuing to develop as golfers.
Lund noted that almost every member of the team considers golf his “primary sport” and each of the members has put in extra work this offseason.
“These guys don’t mind working on the little things you have to do to get better — chipping, putting and short game,” added Lund. “It may not be the most exciting thing to practice, but they know the game is won and lost around the green.”
While the Commerce boys’ team has plenty to look forward to, the girls’ team is looking as competitive as ever in 2014.
They may not have large numbers, but according to Lund, what they lack in quantity, they make up for in quality.
Seniors Hannah McRee and Emmie Burley both return to the Lady Tiger golf team this season. Lund believes both McRee and Burley are capable of playing at the collegiate level.
“Both could be college level players,” added Lund. “They are both as good as, or better than any other two girls in the region.”
Joining the two seniors is Aikyn Trudnak, who returns for her sophomore season.
One challenge the Tiger golf teams will face this year is playing on new turf. Lund has scheduled several matches against Athens-area teams at courses the Tigers are unfamiliar with and haven’t played in the past. Lund feels that playing a diverse course load will help the Tiger teams develop situational skills.
Commerce will travel to Athens Country Club on Thursday to play Clarke Central.