Class AAA state tournament Boys: 8:30 a.m. Monday at Chattahoochee Golf Course Girls: 8:30 a.m. Monday at Chestatee Golf Course
Class AAA state tournament
Boys: 8:30 a.m. Monday at Chattahoochee Golf Course
Girls: 8:30 a.m. Monday at Chestatee Golf Course
Lumpkin County's Aaron George always believes there's room for redemption on the golf course. George, Region 8-AAA's individual qualifier to today's Class AAA state meet at Chattahoochee, may hit a few bumps in the road during his round, but always knows he's one good tee shot away from the chance at a birdie on the next hole.
Even when he double bogeyed the first hole during the region championship April 22 at Chattahoochee, he knew not to panic and just keep trusting his instincts on the course. Lumpkin County coach Jeff Fleming said that George's mental maturity derives from his year's of playing junior golf events against equally yoked talent.
"Aaron is a great competitor," Fleming said. "Even when he double bogeyed that first hole, he didn't let it bother him.
"He just kept fighting and came back to win it."
George knows if he plans on winning the state title in his fourth appearance at a state championship meet, he'll have to avoid the kind of blunder that resulted in a double bogey on No. 1, then another double bogey on No. 13. This week, George has concentrated on playing practice rounds at Chattahoochee to get a good read of the greens and map the course out in his mind.
Fleming and George both feel like with the talent in Class AAA, it will take about a 68 to win it. The golfer thinks he can do it.
"I expect to be able to win it if I play as well as I know it can," George said.
If 68 is the magic number, then he's done it before. Last season, George placed second at the state meet with that score at the Maple Ridge Golf Course in Columbus. This time will be a little different. His first three years of high school, George was accompanied by his team to state as the Indians finished as Region 7-AAA runner-up. Now he's on his own. This year, Gainesville and North Hall were the two team qualifiers to as a result of their performance at Chattahoochee during region.
"It'll be different without my teammates with me this year," George said. "It's all on me."
At region, it took a 73 from George then a par on a playoff hole to win it and earn the individual qualifier spot to state. That was quite an accomplishment considering at one point during the round he was 4-over, according to Fleming. When George came to the tee box at No. 18, Fleming made sure George was aware of the situation: There was already a 73 in the clubhouse and the Lumpkin County senior needed a birdie to force a tie.
Even though George readily admits he was a little nervous knowing he was going to have to be perfect on the hole to make it back to state, he still felt confident in his abilities on the par 4. After a tee shot that flew straight down the fairway, the left hander used his lobwedge for his second shot that came to rest about 10 feet from the cup, then knocked up his birdie putt to set up a three-way playoff on the dreaded No. 1.
This time around, George was much more crisp in his execution on the par 4 that requires a good tee shot for par. He was on the green in two, two putted and walked back to the clubhouse as the region champion.
He's excited to make a run at the state title this year, his final high school tournament. Next year, he'll be teeing it up at North Georgia College & State University.
Fleming said that the key to George's fortunes at state will be playing well on the front nine, preferably under par. Playing with an early tee time may be best for George to hone in on his own game, not having to worry about what anyone else has already carded.
"Aaron has played some practice rounds at Chattahoochee to be ready for state," Fleming said. "If he's striking the ball well, Chattahoochee is conducive to a low round."