For Gainesville’s boys golf team, everything fell into place this season. The Red Elephants’ hard work and focus on the game paid off with a perfect record, a region championship and even a state championship. For their dominance, five Red Elephant golfers were named to the Class AAAAA All-State First Team.
Among those golfers that guided Gainesville to a magical season was senior Pep Brown, the leader on and off the course, says his coach Bryson Worley.
“Everyone just looked to him to lead,” Worley said. “He has been in the program, even as a junior, since he was like 10 years old. He set the bar for us. He is the reason our program is where it is. He sets the bar for work ethic and how you conduct yourself. If there was a manual for what I wanted our players to look like, on and off the course, it would be how Pep does it.”
Brown, the Wofford golf signee, edged out four of his teammates for the honor of The Times’ Boys Golfer of the Year, something he has wanted since missing out on the award in 2012.
“That is awesome. I have wanted it since Lee (McCoy of Habersham Central) got it last year,” Brown said. “That is the biggest award and honor in the region.”
Brown earned the honor after finishing the season with a scoring average of 74.5 and as the individual region champion in back-to-back seasons. The honor came to Brown despite not being the lowest scorer on his own team, an honor held by Nathan Williams (74.42).
But it was Brown’s leadership, work ethic and consistency within the Gainesville program that set him apart from the others.
“He has always been one of my most consistent leaders. He has qualified for every single event in his high school career,” Worley said. “That is saying something when you can make every event in your four-year high school career. That is a pretty solid thing to say.”
The spectacular season for the Red Elephants was something Brown was happy to be a part of, especially since it came during his senior season.
“We have a great team,” said Brown, who began playing competitive golf at age 9.
“Anybody could have gotten this award, which is why this is so special. It was a great year and I’m proud of the team.”
Brown’s season was highlighted by his 70 at the Region 8-AAAAA tournament at the Chattahoochee Golf Club, earning him individual region championship honors for consecutive seasons. Brown also shot a 70 in the Apple Mountain Invitational, the lowest score of any of his teammates.
His success was even hindered by a sore back during parts of the season, forcing Worley to sit him down on the second day of a tournament. He recovered, though, helping the Red Elephants win the state championship by shooting a 75 at the state tournament in Jekyll Island. He finished tied for 14th.
“A lot of people think he is very serious and mature, but he also has a lot of fun,” Worley said. “He is the reason why we have so much team chemistry. He is a great leader.”
Overall, Brown, who has one career hole-in-one, said his senior season was special because he was given the opportunity to play golf with his friends and play Worley.
“That is definitely special. We have all of our seniors going to play in college, which says a lot about our program,” Brown said.
“(Coach Worley) is a second dad to me and to all the guys. He is a college coach already. He knows what he is talking about and he cares about all of us.”
Moving forward, Brown is enjoying the summer on the golf course with his teammates, preparing for his upcoming career at Wofford, and possibly a future in golf after the next four years.
“If I play well enough in college, maybe,” Brown said, of the possibility of a professional career.
“I am just going to take it one year at a time.”