WARRENSVILLE — The inaugural season of the Ashe County Middle School golf program gained a lot of support throughout the year with the team finishing up an undefeated season last week at Mountain Aire Golf Course.
The push for a middle school golf team began a few years ago with Steve Hardin, father of Ashe County High School golfer and reigning MVAC Player of the Year, Sarah Hardin, but nothing ever happened at that point
This year, the hope to build a golf program at the middle school was answered with positive news.
“This year, my son is a seventh grader and I inquired with Mitchell Mash (ACMS Athletic Director) and it was his understanding that the Wilkes schools were putting together golf teams too,” said Andy Patton, who ended up taking on the roll as the team’s head coach. “With the Wilkes schools putting teams together, it just happened to work out for us.”
The Bulldogs played in five tournaments with the four Wilkes County middle schools and came away undefeated in each of the five events.
The team was coached by Patton and Chad Scott with help from other parents including Mark Sexton, Tony Goodman and Edward Henson.
“He (Mitchell) asked me if I would be willing to coach. I told him I wasn’t a very technical golf person but if he needed someone to commit to doing it then I would,” said Patton.
Patton described himself as a “football guy” and never gave much thought to coaching golf, but when everything came together, he said there was plenty of satisfaction that came from coaching the Bulldog golf team.
Turnout was impressive for the first-year program with 24 players on the team.
“Originally we thought about keeping 10 or 12 kids, but we had 24 kids come out and we did not want to cut anybody,” said Patton. “Middle School is a tricky age, you hate to cut anybody that you don’t have to. All of them stayed and played all year. Not everybody was able to play in matches, but everybody learned about the game, gained experience and got better.”
Out of the 24 players, nine of them were girls and they proved to be very good and could play just as good as anyone in the conference. Out of the five matches, Ashe County had girls qualify in two of them.
While not all of the players qualified to play in a match, the importance of the new golf program goes well beyond the putting green.
“It’s a positive thing for 20-plus kids that wouldn’t have been involved in sports,” said Patton. “Some of those kids needed that, they needed to be part of that. Even if they didn’t play, they were still part of something.
The support for the golf team has continued to grow, and all of those involved want everyone in the community to know just how important the program is.
“We are hoping to keep the program permanent at the middle school. It should be an ongoing thing, there’s no reason to drop it,” said Patton. “It was positive, everyone enjoyed it and there were no complaints. In my discussions with the coaches at the four Wilkes schools, it was a very positive experience.”
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-846-7164 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87