There's no quick way to get to the ocean from Dalton.
It's at least six hours to the Gulf of Mexico in a car for Megan Collins to touch the salty water of the Atlantic Ocean, where she longs to spend her life.
The senior golfer at Southeast Whitfield High School has one goal to accomplish before leaving high school for Jacksonville University, where she will study marine biology -- winning a state championship.
"I've been going to the beach since I was little, and all the creatures in the ocean have been cool to me," Collins said. "So I decided: Why not make a career out of it? But I don't know if I'll play golf when I'm down there."
Collins and her teammates, as well as golfers from Region 7-AAAA champion Dalton, runner-up Northwest Whitfield and Heritage, will play one round for a state championship Monday at Nob North Golf Course.
In the Region 7-AAAA tournament, the counting scores of three golfers for Dalton reached 273. Southeast scored 319 and advanced with Collins leading the way.
"My dad played, my brother played, my grandpa and grandma played golf and I just kept with golf," said Collins, who also plays volleyball and basketball. "I want to go out and do the best I can, and I want to be happy with what I do and have a good final round in my senior year."
The northwest Georgia golfing community may have a chance at having a team take home a championship as well as the medalist.
Classifications larger than AA are playing four golfers and counting three scores, and Dalton had the second lowest score of teams behind Columbus.
"Now it's a team sport instead of a superstar sport," said Dalton coach Nancy Halsworth, who coached medalist Brendie Rockholt last year. "That takes off the pressure because we have stars instead of one superstar."
Collins and Heritage senior Rachel Rebne topped all but two scores from each of the Class AAAA regional medalists. Rebne, whose team had to play a sectional tournament, was the medalist there with a 5-over-par 77.
"I just want to play the best I can play," Rebne said. "I'm not really worried about anybody else, and I want to make sure I don't have any regrets when I'm done. I've only practiced there three times. I feel pretty comfortable with the course, and I know what to expect. It's gong to come down to if I can make it happen or not."
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP