FLOWERY BRANCH — With miserable weather consisting of rain, wind and temperatures in the 40s, it was questionable if the second and final round of the Hall County Championships would be played on Tuesday at Royal Lakes Golf and Country Club.
Not only did all schools complete the nine-hole round before sundown, there was even time for a one-hole playoff between Gainesville and North Hall to determine the boys winner.
With nearly pitch-black skies, the Red Elephants edged the Trojans on No. 9 to reclaim the boys title. Both teams had a two-day total of 313 after 18 holes, and the playoff came down to each team’s fifth golfer after the first four bogeyed. A double bogey from Gainesville’s No. 5 golfer was good for the win.
On the girls’ side, the Lady Red Elephants continued their domination of the tournament, shooting a 191 to slip past a strong effort from West Hall (194).
Individual medalists were the Trojans’ Andy Bracewell (75) and the Lady Spartans’ Malorie Smith (93).
“It’s very rewarding,” Gainesville boys golf coach Bryson Worley said of bringing the trophy back to the school — Johnson had won the previous three titles. “It’s one of our goals every year to win Hall County. We have a lot more goals, obviously, but this is a good start.”
It was the Red Elephants’ 17th title in the tournament’s 24-year existence, but it didn’t come easy.
Bracewell shot a 1-under 35 on Tuesday to help North Hall force a playoff with Gainesville.
“We didn’t play very well and North Hall came out and played great,” Worley said. “Andy Bracewell almost single-handedly won it for himself and the team, and hats off to Andy. We just fought and clawed and somehow got into the playoff.”
After the first nine holes, and with not much daylight remaining, there was a short discussion as to whether Gainesville and North Hall come back today to finish the event. Both coaches agreed to finish the playoff Tuesday and decided on hole No. 9 over holes No. 1 and 18.
“The kids are out here, so lets just get it done while everyone is here,” Worley said. “Personally, I want my guys to experience as much pressure as possible.”
Though Bracewell’s efforts beat out Gainesville’s Will Frankum (76) for the individual title, he could only think of his fellow Trojans after the match.
“I really don’t care (about winning individual medalist),” said Bracewell, a junior. “I mean, it’s a great thing, but a team win was what we were going for. Me winning would have been a nice add-on, but it’s not that big of a deal.”
Placing for Gainesville on Tuesday were Frankum (39), Pep Brown and Jackson Bishop (40), and Reeves Bell (41). The Trojans were led by Bracewell, Charlie Matthews (31), Ryan Matthews (40) and Jackson Berry (43).
Johnson finished third with a 327, followed by Flowery Branch (336), Riverside (343) and West Hall (403).
The Lady Red Elephants won for the 23rd time thanks to the strong play of freshmen Morgan Reece, who shot a 49 on Tuesday, and Madeline Harr, who carded a 48.
“Those two girls stepped up tremendously,” Lady Red Elephants coach Clay McDonald said. “Madeline made about a 30-foot birdie put on her ninth hole of the day (No. 3) and that turned out to be really, really big. We just came out with a game plan, and we try to have one on every course we come out to, but we are young, so I give them a lot of credit for sticking with the game plan through the weather and through the circumstances.
“It was a very good win.”
Though the Lady Spartans came up short, sophomore Malorie Smith came up big for West Hall.
“When I realized the rain stopped around noon, something inside me lit up, and I was so excited to get out there and play my best,” said Smith, who finished second overall last year as a freshman. “This is something I really wanted because I came so close last year. This morning, I decided I didn’t care if I finished first, second or third, I just wanted to play my best and, of course, have fun and enjoy the day, even as muddy as it was.”
The Lady Trojans finished third with a score of 209, followed by the Lady Knights (215), Chestatee (257) and Flowery Branch (278).