By Justin Jarrett | LowcoSports@gmail.com
The saying goes that iron sharpens iron. For the area’s high school girls golf teams, the hope is that the quality of teams in the Lowcountry will sharpen irons, woods, wedges, and putters.
Beaufort, Bluffton, Hilton Head Island, and May River all qualified for the state championships last season, and they will push each other to do the same in 2017 with the four Beaufort County schools competing against one another several times throughout the season, beginning with a match at Sanctuary Golf Club this afternoon.
Perhaps Bluffton has the best chance of the four to claim a state championship. The Bobcats finished second in Class 3A a year ago without a drop score, and they return all four starters with Sophia Burnett leading the way after tying for seventh at state in 2016. May River hopes to push its cross-town rival, as the Sharks have two of their top players off last year’s seventh-place team back in Kathryn Thorne and Molly Minasi.
In Class 4A, Hilton Head Island returns six letter winners, including top player Emma Hayward, who tied for eighth at state last year. The Seahawks also have the distinct advantage of hosting the Class 4A state championship at Port Royal Plantation’s Barony Course, so they should have some serious course knowledge. Beaufort hopes to make the short trip to the state meet, as well, as the Eagles have a strong No. 1 back in Izzy Stone.
2017 HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS GOLF PREVIEW CAPSULES
Beaufort High School
Coach: Joseph Tokar (3rd season)
Returning letterwinners: 4
Top returners: Caroline Baker, Izzy Stone, Kyleigh Tokar, Faith Houston
Key losses: Ashley Taylor, Ashton Giamonna
Key newcomers: Amelia McKnight
Coach’s outlook: Izzy Stone will be a great No. 1 and should finish near or at the top as an individual. The team is still young with just one senior, but we should qualify for Lower State and possibly even go back to state.
Bluffton High School
Coach: David K. Everett (1st season)
Returning letterwinners: 4
Top returners: Kaylia McIntyre, Lexi Adams, Camila Burnett, Sophia Burnett
Key losses: None
Key newcomers: Brilee Larson
Coach’s outlook: We are a young team but have a lot of experience. If everyone stays healthy we have a very good shot at a great season. We expect to compete for a state title if we play to our potential.
Hilton Head Island High School
Coach: Rawn Grant Sr. (10th year)
Returning letterwinners: 6
Top returners: Emma Hayward, Morgan Caramello, Megan Ferguson
Key losses: Madeline Prince
Key newcomers: McKenzie Bradley, Elizabeth Coulter
Coach’s outlook: We expect to win our region and finish in the top five in the state.
May River High School
Coach: Kelly Minasi (2nd season)
Returning letterwinners: 5
Top returners: Kathryn Thorne, Molly Minasi, Hannah Harris, Maddy Archer, Maya Williams
Key losses: Brooke Larson
Key newcomers: Sydney Bowes
Coach’s outlook: We have a very cohesive and talented team. After a great first year, we were excited to start our second year. During qualifying thus far, the team’s progress is amazing. It takes years to become proficient at golf and it is a long journey. Watching these six Lady Sharks is exciting. Even though golf is a singular sport in a team setting, they exemplify a winning team. Their attitudes and work ethic are outstanding.