Golfers on the Ringgold and Dalton boys' golf teams may get to toss a pebble into famed Rae's Creek.
They won't get that chance by playing Augusta National. But the creek that has sunk the hopes of numerous potential Masters champions runs alongside the eighth green at Augusta Country Club, which is where the Georgia Class AAA state tournament is being held today.
"When you know you're going this close to that vicinity of Augusta National, the kids start looking up history," Ringgold coach David Gann said. "They're excited to go down there."
The Tigers are making their program's first state-tournament appearance after finishing second in the Region 7-AAA tournament. Dalton's region champion Catamounts have been there for at least each of the past 10 years as either region champions or runners-up.
"The first time is what makes it most exciting," said Gann, who had to wait until the last hole of the region tournament to see if his team would advance. "It's never -- I mean never -- happened before in the history of our school. There have been individuals but never a team."
The Tigers have been led throughout the season by junior Brooks Thomas, who has shot 67 in three tournaments this spring. Gann said Thomas competed in a tournament outside Atlanta in a grouping with two guys who have committed to Georgia Tech and beat them both -- on the same day.
"Brooks is our team leader," Gann said. "All he knows to do is work. He'll spend three hours working on three-foot putts.
"If we're going to win the state championship, our best opportunity is if he can play with any kid there in our class."
Dalton's Lady Catamounts earned their second straight state trip with a seven-shot win the 7-AAA regional, led by medalist Brendie Rockholt with a 79. They will play at Applewood Golf Course today.
"Brendie was fourth last year and I have hopes that she will be No. 1," Lady Cats coach Nancy Halsworth said. "She's prime."
The Lady Cats shot 169 and will be joined by Murray County, which shot 200 in the regional. Megan Collins of Southeast Whitfield shot an 86 and will compete today as an individual.
"We've come a long way in four years from barely having four players to having nine this year and trying to determine our best tournament team," Halsworth said. "I've got Angel Fouche, a senior, and there are two freshmen with me in Ashleigh Peters and Mabel McKone."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...