On the surface, Grant Cagle’s summer schedule looks a little overwhelming.
This rising senior at Johnson High will try to squeeze in at least nine holes on the golf course each afternoon now that summer is in swing, along with a slate full of 40 summer basketball games starting in June for the Knights’ shooting guard.
But don’t think Cagle doesn’t already have his time prioritized. Golf is first as far as sports go in Cagle’s life, while basketball is primarily a tool for having fun and staying in shape.
"He’s a gifted young man and knows where his bread is buttered," Johnson’s boys basketball and golf coach Jeff Steele said. "His future is playing golf in college."
Since Cagle plans on playing golf in college, he’s devoting his final summer before his senior year of high school, the most important as far as recruiting goes, to playing in as many tournaments on the American Junior Golf Association and Southeast Junior Golf Tour as possible. And it just so happens that probably the most important of these tournaments is the AJGA’s Preseason Junior that kicks off today at Chateau Elan in Braselton.
Cagle is one of 96 competitors tackling this stroke-play, 36-hole event on the Chateau Course. The only other two local competitors in this weekend’s event are North Hall senior Landry Haynes, this year’s Region 7-AAA champion, and White County’s John Luna.
"This tournament is a big deal and it’s the first one that I’ve played on the AJGA," Cagle said. "I really want to start off my summer playing well."
And there’s an automatic advantage for Cagle playing at the course that is so close to his home in South Hall. The winner of this year’s Big Red Shootout knows the layout of Chateau’s fairways and greens having played the course from time to time. He knows that playing at the host site for this weekend’s event places a premium on staying in the fairway and making your putts.
And don’t forget the other advantage: sleeping in your own bed at night, versus staying in a hotel room.
"I think there’s an advantage to playing so close to home," Cagle added. If I can stay around par, then I’ll be happy."
He first qualified for this weekend’s showcase of southeastern talent with an eighth-place finish last summer at the Georgia State Golf Championship. Cagle hopes that a consistent summer will draw the attention of college programs, having already gained exposure to schools like Georgia State and Oglethorpe.
So the natural question arises, how does he balance time athletically without short-changing his other commitment? Cagle makes it clear that golf is the priority and it’s accepted that from time to time, basketball will have to play second fiddle. Of course, it helps when the basketball coach is also the golf coach.
And according to Steele, his two-sport athlete doesn’t take his golfing ability for granted. Just last Friday, Cagle was on the practice green working on his putting until the sun went down at Royal Lakes’ practice green.
Johnson’s coach says Cagle, this year’s Region 7-AAA and Hall County runner-up, is also mature beyond his year’s when it comes prioritizing his schedule, even though it has caused a headache for the coach on occasion.
"For a kid his age, it’s amazing how well he prioritizes his time," Steele added. "He’s always out there working on his game."