Willerson, Georgia Northwestern Ready For 2014 Golf Season

Sunday, August 31, 2014
Most second-year college golf programs are too busy laying a foundation to concern themselves too much with results.

Jared Willerson isn’t thinking that way.

In fact, the head coach of the Georgia Northwestern Bobcats is thinking in complete opposite terms when he talks about his team’s goals for the 2014-2015 season.

“I don’t think I’m being unrealistic when I say we have a national championship contending type of team at the present moment,” he said. “We’ve been practicing and playing well and we’ve been doing the things the things necessary. When I look and see what we’re capable of doing, I don’t have any reason to be anything other than optimistic.”

While Willerson isn’t guaranteeing this Bobcats will bring home a national title, or any type of championship this season, he knows the potential for success is there.

GNTC will begin its new season with just one returning player and six newcomers, but it’s an enormously talented group that has spent countless hours on the golf course over the years and one that has already made a name for itself among the area’s golf community.

“Everyone in the golf community around here knows who these kids are,” Willerson explained. “When I go out in public, I get asked all the time about how we’re doing. We have the talent. Now it just depends on how the kids mature, how they adapt to college life and how much they can grow as players, students and individuals. We’ll see what happens.”

The lone returning veteran on the squad is former Murray County standout Drew Tankersley, who Willerson says has become “a totally different player” since last season ended.

“Drew has worked so hard on his game all summer and he’s just gotten better and better,” the coach said. “He’s changed his ball flight and his whole game has improved, especially his short game and putting. He’s been Mr. Consistent for us. I’m really proud of the work he’s put in.”
Willerson added that as the only returning player, Tankersley has taken the new Bobcats under his wing.

“He goes out on the course and shows them the type of shots that you have to hit (in college) because it’s a much different game (than high school golf),” Willerson said. “He reminds them about the slower pace of play in college and reminds them not to get in a hurry. The hardest part of college golf is just learning how to play at this level and he’s done a great job of showing them the ropes.”

The incoming Bobcats already have an impressive resume of awards and honors.
Jordan Estes (Ringgold) is a solid ball-striker with a great all-around game and a calm demeanor on the course. A three-time state qualifier, Estes won two individual region titles while playing for the Tigers.

Willerson calls Chase Cole (Dade County) an “explosive” player that can make birdies in bunches and fights and scraps for every shot on the course. Cole finished in the top four at state three times and won three individual region titles in Trenton.

Another player capable of going low is John Rollins (Trion), who was a two-time region champion and won one individual state title during his time with the Bulldogs.

Lanier Guest (Gordon Lee) helped lead the Trojans to state team championships in his final two years in Chickamauga. He is a past All-State player and was the state individual runner-up as a senior.

Keaton Stanfield (LaFayette) was a consistent player for the Ramblers, who won the region title and finished third at the state tournament in Stanfield’s senior season.

The final newcomer is Grant Allen (Heritage), who previously attended – but did not play golf – at North Georgia College in Dahlonega. A sophomore, Allen will bring some extra maturity and experience to the squad. He helped the Generals to a region runner-up finish and a trip to state as a senior.

This will be the first year that Georgia Northwestern will be eligible to compete for NJCAA post-season championships and Willerson said the team was “pretty pumped” to get the season started.

“I think the chance to win championships is a big reason why they all chose to come here,” he said. “We’ve got a chance to be really successful and we have a chance to be really successful with local kids. ‘Georgia Northwestern’ encompasses a pretty large area, but there is a lot of pride associated with those two words. This is where they are all from. We don’t have any kids in here from somewhere else or some place like Europe. These kids really want to represent this community and do something special for this community. I think that’s the most important thing for them.”

The Bobcats will have a chance to start making a name for themselves early with three fall tournaments, beginning this coming Monday and Tuesday (Sept. 8-9) in the SCAD-Atlanta Fall Invitational at The Oaks Course in Covington.

After that, the team will head to the beaches of Sea Island for the College of Coastal Georgia Fall Classic at the Davis Love III Course (Sept. 15-16) and conclude the fall campaign in Rome at the Berry College/ Chick-Fil-A Collegiate Invitational at the Coosa Country Club (Oct. 20-21).

“These fall tournaments ought to be a lot of fun,” Willerson said. “There’s going to be a lot of NAIA national contenders at the first tournament and folks like Dalton State will be at the Coastal Georgia tournament. Coastal Georgia won the NAIA national title last year so we are getting to play some top-notch competition right off the bat to see where we stand and see what we need to do to improve.”

The spring schedule will include tournaments at Wallace State in Alabama, Goose Pond Colony in Scottsboro (Ala.) and a tournament at Darton State in Georgia, which will host the NJCAA state tournament late in the season.

Most college tournaments are formatted for each team to field five players with the four lowest scores counting toward the team score. With that in mind, Willerson has a target number for all of his team’s tournaments this season.

“I’m looking for sub-300 rounds every time,” he explained. “If we break 300 every time, I’ll take that. A score of 295-300 should put us in contention most every tournament.”

Covenant Men's Soccer, Volleyball Teams Pick Up USA South Sportsmanship Awards

For a third consecutive year, the Covenant men's soccer team has earned the USA South Sportsmanship award for its sport while the Covenant volleyball team picked up its first Sportsmanship honor, announced the conference on Wednesday. During the 2004-05 academic year the USA South Athletic Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee instituted a Conference-wide Sportsmanship ... (click for more)

Dennis Norwood: Through The Lens

As a photographer I am usually looking at life through the lens of my camera. As we rapidly approach Thanksgiving 2015, please allow me, if you will, an opportunity to look at life through a different lens. With apologies to my colleagues, Roy Exum and John Hunt , who always pen such wonderful words of thanks at this time of year,   please allow me to add my list of   ... (click for more)

Residents Concerned Over 7-Story Building On The Southside

Downtown Chattanooga residents expressed their concerns with the proposed seven-story apartment building on Cowart Street on the Southside at Tuesday night’s City Council Meeting. The apartment building, originally zoned at four stories before Belle Investment petitioned for seven, has not been adequately publicized, residents claimed.   Architect and Planning Professional ... (click for more)

Commissioner Graham Chides Chairman Bankston For Shredding Arts Cigarette Tax Letter; Says Sunshine Law Violated

County Commissioner Joe Graham on Wednesday chided Chairman Chester Bankston for shredding a letter related to the proposed cigarette tax to aid the arts. "Have you shredded any other county legal documents?" he demanded. Chairman Bankston replied, "No, I have not done that." He said the letter did not get the necessary six signatures to forward to the Legislature. ... (click for more)

An Extra Helping Of Gratitude

After being thankful for the grace of God, my family and good health, this year I have an extra helping of gratitude to live in a special place called Chattanooga.   We endured the trauma of terrorism on July 16 and emerged more united and stronger than ever before.  We claim our heritage and celebrate our diversity like no other city in America.  We honor our ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Vote DesJarlais Out!

There are two good bills in both the Senate and the House of Representatives right now that are directly aimed at the sadistic villains who derive some sick pleasure out of torturing helpless Tennessee Walking Horses. They call it “soring,” where caustic materials are lathered into a horse’s forelegs and then wrapped in plastic so they’ll cook. Sometimes they use nails or screws ... (click for more)