Highlands and Blue Ridge golf wrap up at Sapphire National

Highlands School and Blue Ridge Early College golf teams played two matches at Sapphire National Golf Club within a week. Players got a shot at the front 9 first on March 28 and then again on April 2.

Highlands and Blue Ridge Early College played two matches at Sapphire National Golf Club within a week.

March 28 results below:

Swain 186

Highlands 191

Blue Ridge 198

Cherokee 202

Rosman 229

Highlands Mattson Gates chips at Sapphire National Golf Club.

Highlands took second and Blue Ridge Early College took third for the day. Highlands Mattson Gates had the low score.

“I shot a 44 today,” said Mattson after the match on March 28. “I thought I did well, but there’s room for improvement. I think Sapphire National is in a better condition than other courses in this area at this time of year and my favorite holes are ones where I can take a driver off of the tee. I think our team is doing well and we will start to turn the corner in the next week or so.”

Highlands Head Coach Keven Gabbard said the team shot well, but he’s looking ahead to the future.

“Our over-all match record is 15-4,” said Gabbard as of March 28. “The team needs to continue to work on their chipping and putting to lower their scores. Our tee shots are improving with each match including this one. The weather has been a problem this spring for practice, so as the weather gets better so will our scores.”

BREC Stephen Madden drives at Sapphire National Golf Club.

BREC Head Coach Tim Mayse said the first match at Sapphire National was the best round they’ve played this season. He added that the course was well maintained, especially given the recent weather and how early it is in the season. Regardless of the conditions, he said there’s several things BREC can work on to improve the team’s scores.

“We have to continue to be more consistent off the tee,” said Mayse. “We need to be in position to par holes with our approach shots. Also, the guys have to start scoring better with their wedge play. We’re about midway through the season, and we are continuing to improve each practice. If all four guys are on their game, we would be 15-20 strokes better as a team which would put us in contention for the top team in the conference. We just haven’t had that consistency from every player in a single match yet.”

BREC Joe Madden scopes out his putt.

Lowest score from Blue Ridge was Joe Madden shooting a 46. BREC Noah Pressler, who shot in the low 50s, said sometimes the game just doesn’t go your way.

“Well, I shot pretty terrible,” said Pressler. “It was maybe the unluckiest round of golf I’ve ever played in my life.”

Highlands Dillon Schmitt skirts the rim of the hole but ends up tapping in.

Pressler added that the greens were tough under these conditions during this time of year and he needs to work on his short game and consistency, but overall Sapphire National is a fun course to play.

“The course was pretty good today,” he said. “The greens weren’t the best, they were pretty tough, but not too bad.”

Highlands Drew Chalker tees off at Sapphire National Golf Club.

Blue Ridge Fisher Druffel shot a 48 and said it’s been a challenge this season because after a brief hiatus from playing golf, said he needs to make some tweaks and get his stroke back.

“It’s really been a big struggle for me this year,” said Druffel. “I’m going through a swing change and right now it’s just not where it’s supposed to be, and I’ve got a month to fix it.”

BREC Joe Madden worked with what he was given and ended up shooting a 46 for the day.

He added that he enjoys playing at Sapphire National, but the greens can be tricky.

“I really like the course and the consistency of it,” said Druffel. “The layout is good, and it was in good condition, but the greens can be super tough.”

A week later, Highlands and BREC once again played at Sapphire National.

Highlands Destin Gearhart gets ready to tee off at Sapphire National Golf Club.

April 2 results below:

Highlands 187

Blue Ridge 207

Rosman 220

Gabbard said Highlands did well, especially on a cold day. Mayse said even after recently playing at Sapphire National, it’s always a challenging course.

“We are grateful to Sapphire for allowing us to host today’s match,” said Mayse. “Thought we had great weather. A little cold, but not enough to affect play. Course is in very good shape and has some challenging holes for the golfers especially the par 3s and par 5s on the front nine. Our guys need to keep working at practice and during matches to be at our best for the conference tournament to have a chance to make regionals.”

Other scores from April 2:

Dillon Schmitt (Highlands – 50)

Joe Madden (Blue Ridge – 52)

Hunter Prickett (Nantahala -52)

Steve Madden (Blue Ridge -53)

Hunter Moody (Rosman – 55)

Noah Pressler (Blue Ridge -56)

Zac Taylor (Nantahala -57)

Logan Powell (Rosman – 58)

Blaine Owen (Rosman – 59)

Ethan Passmore (Nantahala – 60)

Juliana Aiken (Andrews – 62)

Landan Hedden (Andrews – 63)

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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