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High school golf: Pair of freshmen carry Gainesville High boys, girls to Hall County titles
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Gainesville's Andrew Hughes, right, shakes hands with North Hall's Bartley Forrester preparing to make a shot during the final round of the Hall County high school golf championships in Flowery Branch, on Tuesday, March 13, 2018. Hughes placed first individually in the tournament. - photo by David Barnes

Two of Gainesville High’s youngest golfers showed they could handle the pressure of playing in the Hall County Championships just fine.

Andrew Hughes and Karina Collins, each a freshman for the Red Elephants, won low-medallist honors Tuesday at the Royal Lakes Golf & Country Club as Gainesville went on to easily win the team titles, too.

“It feels great to win the county championship,” said Hughes. “But I would feel the same way if any of my teammates won.”

Hughes shot a second-round 38 to finish with a two-day total of 75 during a county championship where high winds played a factor both days and soggy fairways were part of the conditions during the opening nine Monday. In the girls’ competition, Collins was steady both days, shooting a second-round 46 to finish with an 18-hole total of 91.

Hughes recovered nicely during the final round by grabbing a pair of birdies on his final three holes after putting a double par on his scorecard on No. 13. The Red Elephants freshman edged his senior teammate Ryan Hogan by one stroke. 

Gainesville finished with its four lowest scorers totalling a 307, which was 40 shots ahead second-place North Hall and 72 strokes better than third-place Flowery Branch (379). Also counting toward the Red Elephants’ eighth-consecutive Hall County championship were Brody Simmons (78) and Davis Weaver (79).

After putting an eight on his scorecard, Hughes settled in and knocked in an 8-foot putt for birdie on the 16th hole, then hit his third shot on the par-5 18th to within a foot of the cup. 

Hughes is no stranger to pressure situations at the high school level, even though it was just his second varsity event. He had to make the cut for the Red Elephants through three qualifying rounds to play in the county championships.

“We have really good depth,” Gainesville coach Bryson Worley said. “Those qualifying rounds are hard.”

Hughes said he played a more conservative approach down the stretch to try and remedy his bad hole while also not letting the wind get a hold of his shots. 

“We’re all really proud of Andrew,” Hogan said. “It was tough conditions out there today and he handled it well.”

Even though the wind was slightly less than the steady 20 miles per hour it maintained Monday, Worley said it played a bigger factor on the final nine. 

“We were playing the harder side (Tuesday),” Worley said. “The shots were more exposed (to the wind).”

The Lady Red Elephants were equally consistent as their male counterparts to wrap up the county title. Gainesville’s Morgan Nichol and Vivian Robinson each went 48-47 to finish tied for second with a 95.

Team standings


1. Gainesville 307

2. North Hall 347

3. Flowery Branch 379

4. West Hall 382

5. Lakeview Academy 420

6. East Hall 429

7. Chestatee 452

8. Johnson 476

Top Individuals

1. Andrew Hughes Gainesville 37-38 75

2. Ryan Hogan Gainesville 38-38 76

3. Brody Simmons Gainesville 37-41 78

4. Davis Weaver Gainesville 38-41 79

5. Michael Kallab North Hall 42-38 80

6. Zayne Hilderbrand Gainesville 40-41 81

Team Standings


1. Gainesville 281

2. North Hall 316

3. Flowery Branch 342

4. Johnson 371

5. Chestatee 379

6. East Hall 392

Top Individuals

1. Karina Collins Gainesville 45-46 91

T2. Vivian Robinson Gainesville 48-47 95

T2. Morgan Nichol Gainesville 48-47 95

4. Shelby Benjamin Chestatee 46-55 101

5. Annika Cain North Hall 51-51 102

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