Region 8-AAA tournament
1. Gainesville 160
2. White County 177
3. Johnson 182
4. North Hall 183
5. West Hall 187
6. Franklin County 194
7. Lumpkin County 196
8. Oconee County 210
9. Stephens County 211
10. Chestatee 219
11. Monroe 228
12. Walnut Grove 239
13. Lanier 262
Top individual scores from area teams
Madeline Harr, Gainesville 80
Meg Callahan, Gainesville 80
Morgan Reece, Gainesville 87
Brittan Slaton, White County 88
Lauren Smith, Johnson 88
Jodi Samples, White County 89
Rachel Hammond, White County 89
Jessie Edge, North Hall 91
Haley Twiggs, North Hall 92
Olivia Davis, West Hall 93
Kristin Waters, Johnson 94
Malorie Smith, West Hall 94
Morgan Wood, Lumpkin County 98
Taylor Gooch, Lumpkin County 98
Victoria Gean, Chestatee 109
Madison Eiberger, Chestatee 110
MONROE — Last week, Gainesville girls golf coach Clay McDonald set a goal for his team heading into the Region 8-AAA championship: A 160 team score.
That was before the weather took a turn for the worse.
“I sent a weather report to everyone,” McDonald said, “and the weather was off by 10 or 15 degrees and 10 or 15 miles per hour.”
On a cold and windy day, the Lady Red Elephants went out and accomplished the goal anyway Monday at the Monroe Golf and Country Club, securing the region championship. Gainesville finished 17 shots ahead of second-place White County (177).
The Lady Red Elephants had finished second the last three years, and the coach was ready for a change.
“If we played the way we could play,” McDonald said, “I felt we could come out on top.”
Johnson junior Lauren Smith also clinched a spot in the state tournament as the top golfer outside of the top two teams with a score of 88.
“I feel pretty good,” Smith said after coming in from one of the final groups of the day.
Gainesville’s top two golfers, who had finished earlier in the afternoon, were already preparing for at least one more hole when the final groups finished their rounds.
Madeline Harr and Meg Callahan each carded an 80 on the day, more than enough to secure the region title, but also leaving low-medalist honors up in the air. So, after the awards ceremonies, the teammates went back to the Par-5 No. 1 to begin a sudden-death playoff to decide which one of the two state-bound golfers would be taking home low-medalist honors as well.
Harr, who had cheered on 18 when Callahan sank a 30-foot putt to secure the day’s second 80, sank a 9-foot par putt of her own on the opening playoff hole to edge Callahan by a stroke.
It was the second time the two had finished a tournament in a playoff. Even though Harr had won the first one, it didn’t give her any security that she could win a second.
“It was no relief thinking of that last one,” Harr said. “She made a long putt too to get in; she’s a great golfer.
“She deserves this, too.”
The Gainesville vs. Gainesville playoff displayed the strength of the region champions. The Lady Red Elephants also had the third lowest score of the day in Morgan Reece’s 87.
“It definitely makes all the work worth it,” Harr said. “All the late practice, and all the staying up late to do homework.
“It’s all worth it.”
The Lady Red Elephants, along with the Lady Warriors and Lauren Smith, will play in the state tournament May 7 at Applewood golf course in Keysville.
The players will no doubt be hoping for better weather, except maybe White County sophomore Brittan Slaton, who finished with a team-best 88.
“This is the best I’ve ever shot,” she said. “It was very surprising.
“In the beginning I had no clue that it would turn out this good for all of us.”
White County is headed to state for the first time in coach Beth Kimsey’s tenure, holding off Johnson (182) and North Hall (183). Jodi Samples and Rachel Hammond each shot an 89 for the Lady Warriors.
“This is very exciting and a little unexpected,” the coach said. “We figured Gainesville would be first, but second place was anybody’s guess.
“I can’t tell you how proud of them I am.”
Kimsey was very pleased with how her team played in the conditions, something no golfer could escape.
North Hall junior Jessie Edge (team-best 91) said the wind, which only got worse as the day went on, not only affected her drives but her putts.
“That’s probably the worst (conditions) I’ve ever had at a region match,” she said.
The weather did, in fact, improve somewhat for the playoff. Harr fired a long drive down the fairway, followed it up with an approach just in front of the green, and then a chip shot onto the green to set up a two-putt to hold off Callahan, who stayed alive with a nice recovery shot from the trees and a second from the sand.
“You always love for your abilities to be challenged,” Harr said. “But it hurt as much that she didn’t win as it did that I did.”
Two evenly matched golfers is a good problem for Gainesville to have. Now the two will have one more chance this season to compete not just against each other, but the best of the state.