PINEHURST — The flagsticks on the front nine at Pinehurst No. 6 were the targets during the Sandhills Athletic Conference season-opening match for the boys’ and girls’ golf teams on Monday.
After weather last week delayed the start to the newly formatted high school golf season, Richmond Senior High School’s two teams, along with head coach Keith Parsons and assistant Demi Watkins, took the first nine-hole match in stride on the George and Tom Fazio designed course.
This season, there are seven boys’ golf teams and only three girls’ golf teams (Richmond, Pinecrest and Lumberton high schools) that have enough golfers to qualify each match and compete for an SAC championship. Seventy-First High School is the only boys’ program to not field a team.
New this spring is the triple-bogey stroke rule, where golfers can get a maximum score of a triple bogey on each hole, one stroke less than the double-par rule from last season. The maximum score at Course No. 6 was a 63 (+27).
Playing in two different tee time groups, Richmond was part of the second flight in Monday’s match, paired with Pinecrest and Purnell Swett high schools.
The boys’ and girls’ teams each played the front nine, as schools played each hole together, part of the new format. The top four golfers from each team had their individual scores combined to determine the winning school.
“I enjoyed the new format, which allowed me to follow along and see how everyone did on each hole,” Parsons said. “The lone downside was not having the opportunity to see anything with our other group.
“The format also brought a real team feeling to golf, which ordinarily is centered only on the individual player,” he added. “As we get more experience with this, I think our group will find ways to make each other better.”
Pinehurst No. 6, a par 36 course on the front, saw the Raiders take fourth overall with a team score of 206 (+62) and earn five points. Qualifying for the team score were senior Jonathan Rich (42, +6), junior Ethan Brown (48, +12), senior Will Thompson (54, +18) and sophomore Gavin Graves (62, +26).
Pinecrest High School earned eight points in the win, shooting a team score of 147 (+3), and was led by Jackson Van Paris (33, -3), who also led the field. Taking second place and seven points was Scotland (194, +50), followed by six points from Lumberton (197, +53).
The Raiders edged Jack Britt (208, four points) by two strokes, Purnell Swett (211, three points) by five strokes and Hoke County (229, two points) by 23 strokes.
For the Lady Raiders, it was senior first-year golfer Georgia Grace Anderson who led the way with a 55 (+19), helping Richmond earn a third-place finish and six points with a combined score of 242 (+98).
Next for the Lady Raiders was junior Jamie Kay Sears, also in her first season with the team, who shot a 61 (+25). Rounding out the top four scorers for the girls’ team were seniors Delaney Driggers and Angeli Yang, who both posted a 63 (+27) in their return to the course.
The Pinecrest Lady Patriots also took first place, finishing the day with a team score of 208 (+64), and Lumberton just held off Richmond for second with a final mark of 241 (+97).
Purnell Swett didn’t qualify for the team score, but Lauren Locklear shot the best round of the day, posting a 47 (+11) to lead the ladies’ field.
Richmond’s Lane Richardson and Abigail Tatum both shot a 63 (+27), but were not included in the final team score since only four scores can be used.
The Richmond boys’ and girls’ golf teams will return to action Wednesday at Pinehurst No. 6 and tee off at 2 p.m. It’s a make-up from last week’s rain out.