When she was 9, Camryn Cole received a present from her father.
Upon opening it, she discovered a set of golf clubs and asked her dad one simple question: “Why?”
Nine years later and with a slew of tournament victories that include two Region 7-AAA championships and four Hall County championships, Cole found the answer to her question.
“I guess it ended up being a good thing,” said Cole, The Times 2010 Girls Golfer of the Year.
Aside from winning several individual titles, Cole has been the backbone of the Gainesville High girls golf program since she arrived on the scene her freshman year. She won back-to-back region and county titles in her first two years as a Lady Red Elephant and led her team to team to a state tournament appearance her freshman year.
She was named The Times Girls Golfer of the Year following that season and again in 2009 when she won her third straight county title and led the Lady Red Elephants to another state tournament.
“She followed suit with some other great golfers to come out of Gainesville High School,” coach Clay McDonald said. “She worked hard and really played well all four years.”
Her final year might have been the most impressive.
Cole tore two ligaments in her right knee in December and had surgery to repair those ligaments a few weeks later. With golf season beginning in February, Cole and everyone surrounding the program had fears that she wouldn’t be able to play her senior season.
“I didn’t know when she’d be back or if she’d be back,” McDonald said. “I felt terrible for her because this was her final season and I wanted her to have a great year.”
Donning a bulky knee brace, Cole took to the course at Royal Lakes for the Hall County Championships and put in a two-day total of 84 to win her fourth-straight title by eight strokes. While not as impressive as her 22-stroke win the year before, winning that tournament proved that Cole was back.
“Once I won Hall County, I knew I could have a great season,” she said.
Cole was the team’s low-medalist in every match she played in from then on out despite playing with a knee brace and pulling her clubs around on a push cart.
“That thing fell down constantly and the brace was nothing compared to the push cart,” she said. “So finally, after one tournament at Legacy on Lanier, I said I was over it and threatened to throw it in the lake.”
She didn’t go through with the threat, but with the “huge and annoying” cart out of the way, Cole was back to being more comfortable on the golf course and entered the Region 7-AAA championship with one eye on the individual title and the other on the team.
“Throughout high school, my focus has always been on the team,” Cole said. “I wanted to lead the team to our big accomplishments and I was always told that winning individually wasn’t as impressive as winning as a team.”
Cole failed in her quest to win the region championship this year, as her 76 was two-shots shy of Lambert freshman Sloan Shanahan.
“I had a great round that day and I stayed within myself,” Cole said. “Seeing that 74 made losing worse because I knew that was in reach.”
Her disappointment faded quickly once she realized that Gainesville finished in second and qualified for the state tournament.
“The highlight of my year was watching my teammates improve,” Cole said.
That improvement showed during the Class AAA tournament where Cole carded an 80 the Lady Red Elephants finished fifth with a score of 171.
“We wanted to go back to state and we knew what we had to do,” McDonald said. “Camryn was a great leader and a big reason why we were able to accomplish that.”
Now, Cole is off to college to continue her golf career. She plans on playing for two years at Gordon College, then transferring to a Division-I school and hopefully, one day, to play a round at Pebble Beach.
Regardless of what happens in the future, Cole’s legacy at Gainesville won’t be forgotten.
“She’ll definitely go down as one of the top female golfers to come out of Gainesville High School,” McDonald said. “She’s probably made that mold a little bigger for someone else to come fill.”