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High school golf: Gainesville boys, girls build commanding leads at Hall County Championships
Brody Simmons

All things considered, the Gainesville High boys golf team put together a remarkable round of golf Monday, March 12, over the first nine holes of the Hall County Championships at the Royal Lakes Golf & Country Club in Flowery Branch. 

With swirling wind of 20 miles per hour constant all afternoon and soaked fairways from heavy rain the night before, the Red Elephants’ top four scores combined to make a 6-over par (150). The temperature wasn’t much help either as it topped out at 48 on the first day of the two-day event.

“I’m very happy with a six-over par on a day like today,” Gainesville boys coach Bryson Worley said. 

With nine holes left to play today, Gainesville has a 28-stroke lead over second-place North Hall and is 37 strokes ahead of third-place Flowery Branch.

The Red Elephants were led by a pair of 37s from Brody Simmons and Andrew Hughes and 38s from both Ryan Hogan and Davis Weaver. 

Gainesville’s coach said his players are prepared for all conditions that come with playing outdoors in early spring, but conceded Monday was about as tough as he’s ever seen. 

“We rotate Hall County championship between Royal Lakes, Chicopee Woods and Chattahoochee,” Worley said. “And every time we play out here, it seems that wind is a big factor.”

Gainesville’s boys are seeking their eighth consecutive county championship.

For Simmons, the key to playing a round of 2-over par was focusing on hitting lower shots to avoid letting the wind play tricks with the ball about the trees.

The best hole for the Red Elephants’ senior was his 81-yard fairway shot on the par-5 third hole. He two-putted from about four feet for birdie. Simmons also carded a birdie on No. 7.

One of Hogan’s two birdies came on No. 6 with his tee shot on the short par-4 that landed in the greenside bunker, then got up and down for a 3.

Club selection was also greatly affected by the high winds. On No. 9, Hogan said he was forced to use a 7-iron from about 150 yards to the pin, a situation where he would normally use a 9-iron. 

Weather elements added “three or four shots” with all the uncertainty on the course, according to Hogan. 

Defending Hall County champion Bartley Forrester, a North Hall senior, finished with a first-round 40.

In the girls’ competition, the Lady Red Elephants also hold a commanding lead after a first-round 141. Karina Collins carded a 45 for Gainesville, while Morgan Nichol, Vivian Robinson and Ashlyn Burch each had a 48.

Chestatee’s Shelby Benjamin was second with a 46 after Day 1.

Gainesville’s girls lead by 20 shots over second-place North Hall and are 26 strokes ahead of third-place Flowery Branch.

The forecast for the final round of the Hall County championships is a bit better with a predicted high of 52 and winds 10-20 mph.


Team standings

Boys

1. Gainesville 150

2. North Hall 178

3. Flowery Branch 187


Individual leaders

T1. Andrew Hughes Gainesville 37

T1. Brody Simmons Gainesville 37

T3. Ryan Hogan Gainesville 38

T3. Davis Weaver Gainesville 38

T5. Bartley Forrester North Hall 40

T5. Zayne Hilderbrand Gainesville 40


Girls

1. Gainesville 141

2. North Hall 161

3. Flowery Branch 167


Individual leaders

1. Karina Collins Gainesville 45

2. Shelby Benjamin Chestatee 46

T3. Morgan Nichol Gainesville 48

T3. Vivian Robinson Gainesville 48

T3. Ashlyn Burch Gainesville 48

Regional events