However, it was one stroke that made the difference Monday in Moultrie at the Sunset Country Club as the Canes earned the 10th and final spot in the state tournament by one shot.
“If one of those kids doesn’t pull off one of those shots, we’re not going to states,” Cartersville golf coach Dennis Godfrey said. “It’s an individual game, but it truly was a team yesterday that accomplished what they did. I’m extremely proud of them.”
Cartersville also won the Region 5-AAA tournament by just one stroke, but the sectionals presented even more pressure for the team’s four golfers — Pierce Dempsey, Stephen Hopkins, Carter Bishop and David Tillman — because the Canes were the 18th of 19 teams to shoot. As a result, the golfers knew the score they would have to achieve to advance to the state tournament.
“What was great about it was we were the afternoon group, so all the spots were taken but one and there was one group after us,” Godfrey said. “We knew what numbers were in there, and we knew the number we could make it on 18, and we could win.”
Dempsey was the low medalist for Cartersville with a score of 85. The low medalist for the event shot a 72, indicating how difficult the course was.
“There was not much room for error. It’s an old country club, very tough golf course,” Godfrey said. “It’s a shorter golf course but the greens were really small. If you missed, you had some places where it was difficult to get up and down.”
The course’s challenges presented itself on the par-five ninth hole, but Hopkins had little trouble with it and hit the shot of the day for the Canes.
“Behind the greens on nine, you had a bank, so he had a chip shot with the green sloping away from him. I promise you, he could have hit it 1,000 times and couldn’t keep it on the green, probably,” Godfrey said. “He chipped it in on four, and when you go back and look and see we won it by one stroke, he could have easily made a six. It was an unbelievable golf shot.”
Dempsey also birdied nine, saving Cartersville two strokes between his and Hopkins’ birdie. Otherwise, the Canes would have been one stroke shy of the state playoffs.
As a team, Cartersville did not begin the day well, but shots like Hopkins’ allowed the Canes to recover.
“They got off to a bad start, but really came back and scratched and clawed on the back nine to get everything they got,” Godfrey said. “They showed a lot of guts just to hang in there. Pierce just got off to an atrocious start and he battled back. The thing I’m proud of is they just kept battling. They played their guts out.”
Cartersville shot a 356 after shooting a 355 at the region tournament. As in all of Cartersville’s events, the team only has four golfers while most teams have six and take the top four scores. Therefore, the Canes could not afford for any one golfer to have a bad day.
“Because we come in with four kids and everyone else has six, we have to scratch and claw,” Godfrey said. “Our three and four guys could have shot better, but they didn’t shoot a real high score. They shot consistent for them, around the low 90s. Our No. 1 [Dempsey] had a bad 18 and still shot an 85.”
Cartersville will now advance to the state tournament at the Belle Meade Country Club in Thomson on May 19.