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Boys Athlete of the Week: Gainesville's Spencer Ralston

Red Elephant sophomore shot 9-under 64 in tournament

POSTED: March 10, 2014 11:42 p.m.

Gainesville’s boys golf team has ascended a level of dominance so strong, the varsity players seemingly take turns winning low medalist honors throughout the season.

It was Spencer Ralston’s turn to be the No. 1 Red Elephant on Saturday, and did he ever deliver.

The sophomore shot a 9-under par 63 to take first place in the Apple Mountain Invitational on what became a historic day for Gainesville golf, as the Red Elephants set a new team record by combining for an 18-under 270.

“That course is a little bit easier,” Ralston said. “If I played well, I could go low. But 63 was kind of a treat. I was making every putt that I had.”

Gainesville broke its previous team record of 289, which the Red Elephants last matched at the Johnny Paulk Invitational on March 1 at Jekyll Island.

Ralston shot a 69 in that event, giving the University of Georgia commit back-to-back sub-70 outings. He has a solid chance to make it three in a row today, after shooting a 33 on the first day of the Hall County Championships on Monday at Royal Lakes Golf & Country Club.

As he climbs to the top of leaderboards week after week, his teammates are coming with him.

“I think everybody is about the same on the team – we’re really deep,” Ralston said. “Anybody can play No. 1 any week. I think it’s good that we’re all comfortable playing in that position.”

Ralston learned how to be Gainesville’s No. 1 golfer from the early stages of his high school career. He won the 2013 Hall County Championship as a freshman with a 72, holding off a trio of formidable foes in teammates Lawson King (2013 Class AAAAA individual state runner-up), Pep Brown (2013 Times Golfer of the Year) and Nathan Williams.

Now 16 years old, he’s growing quickly, like any typical teenager, and he’s beginning to add more power to his swing.

“He has the build to be a big kid, that’s why colleges like him so much,” Red Elephants boys coach Bryson Worley said. “He hits it a long way, and knows where it’s going.”

That sets him up for a successful short game, where he can be almost unstoppable.

Incredibly skillful with the putter, Ralston has gone arduous lengths to perfect his accuracy on the green. Training with Worley, he has cleaned up his putting approach this season, which has been crucial in his decreasing scores.

“He has great tempo and a great feel around the greens,” Worley said. “We’ve really been working on his green reading. We shored up his putting stroke. We knew it was very good, so we turned to green reading and it’s really helped him out.”

Ralston has plenty of high school rounds ahead of him, and should be a state championship contender until he graduates. But he’s still been proactive in securing his long-term career by getting his commitment to Georgia out of the way early in his high school career.

It was pretty much a no-brainer for the lifelong Bulldogs fan.

“That’s just where I felt at home,” said Ralston, who has played on the University of Georgia course. “Everything about it is great. They have phenomenal coaches and facilities, and I felt like that was the best choice.”

Worley echoed Ralston’s decision, applauding him for knocking out his college decision early.

Now it’s just peace-of-mind golfing for the next two years.

“He lives for it, and he wants to be the best he can be,” Worley said. “It shows – he’s kind of turned the corner.”

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