One of the highlights of the high school golf season since 1977 is the Southern Cross at Palmetto GC in Aiken, SC.
The format is 4 players from each school & counting the low 3 scores each day to determine a champion. Outside of your state championship ( depending on classification) the next event every school wants to win is this event.
The Southern Cross is put on by the Aiken Sertoma Club & hosted by Palmetto GC, the 5th oldest golf course in our country. Palmetto is truly a gem & is a treat & quite the challenge for all golfers. If you are ever afforded the opportunity, do yourself a favor & accept & then take a step back in time & enjoy golf nirvana. Head Professional Brooks Blackburn & Head Superintendent Mark Swaggert ( both outstanding golfers in their own right) do an outstanding job along with their staffs.
Very similar green complexes to Augusta National ( Dr. Alister McKenzie was co-designer of Augusta National along with Bobby Jones….Dr. McKenzie helped rework the greens at Palmetto while designing Augusta National ) & at roughly 6500 hundred yards ( short by modern lengths ) from the back tees, it is a great challenge to all golfers. It’s the home course for 2 current PGA Tour members ( Kevin Kisner & Scott Brown). Hey these guys are good & wouldn’t play here if it was wasn’t great!
AC Flora is always very appreciative to be extended an invitation to compete in this great event. Thank you Mr. Ryan Orr & the Aiken Sertoma Club for the invite.
Flora has won this event only one time in its golf history. The 14 time state champion Falcons were hoping to add the title again this season. We feel like we have the best team in the state. Maybe we wanted it a little too much. There is a thing called over trying especially in golf. Our prep work felt good, we were rested & ready to go. But, both days, 36 holes, we collectively struggled.
One of the main things at Palmetto is the firm, undulated, & extremely quick greens. We handled that ok, we putted well, our numbers were good for each player. Obviously Coach Dargan over emphasized this & it hurt the rest of our games. Note ???? to Self: don’t do that again RLD! Our ball striking really was what let us down. The breezy conditions both days really played havoc with everyone. Opposite direction winds both days really made it hard to pull the right club.
The top 3 teams on the leaderboard really handled it the best. They aren’t multiple state championship schools for no reason. One of the top golf schools in SC is Christ Church in Greenville, SC. Congratulations to them for defending their title ( they won in 2019, no event in 2020). They played great & handled the difficult conditions better than the other 20 teams.
We were lead by Junior Luke Sullivan ( 71-75-145) who had a solid 8th place finish just missing the all tournament team. Sophomore Adam Hunt (76-73-149) finished an acceptable 15th. Junior Burch Harrison (76-78-154) made his first appearance for Flora at this event & finished 33rd. Senior Guy Buffum rounded out the lineup for the Falcons.
These young men battled to the end & didn’t give in. Sometimes golf will beat you up, it’s a difficult game. Occasionally it will give you a window to what to what someone is made up of on the inside especially when you just don’t have your best stuff. Well, these guys didn’t give up, they played hard to the end, playing the last 5 holes under par as a team even when the already knew that we weren’t going to win. I am very proud of them for that & it bodes well for our upcoming postseason run.
We had great support in Aiken. The 1997 Miss South Carolina made another appearance along with parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles & even girlfriends. Y’all get it, great support! Even Mary Lide Dargan ( daughter ) & Emory Dargan ( niece ) made the trip down 1-20, come to think of it, they were kind of forced to go, because everyone needed a break & going out of town sounded “cool” at the time. About 30 minutes outside Columbia the news was delivered “that we were going to a high school
golf tournament to watch” & suddenly it didn’t sound so cool anymore. They were well behaved & provided some comic relief when the golf was causing a headache, they were good sports.
The golf teams ends it’s regular season w/6 victories, 1 runner ups, 2 3rds, & 1 fourth place finish.
We will play our region championship this Monday & the upper state at Fort Mill the next Monday. Then the 4A State Championship will be contested in Hilton Head, SC on May 17 & 18.
Our hope is that we can get Coach Tom “Terrific “ Elliott on the grounds going forward (he is undefeated as the Flora coach 28-0) & that this event, while disappointing, will serve as a catalyst, a refocus on what our biggest goal is, to play our best golf on May 17 & 18.
The postseason is here. We think we are ready, we hope we are ready, we better be ready!
Go Falcons & congrats to Coach Mickey Purdy & the Flora Lacrosse ???? team on a great season & a runner up finish today at State, well done guys!
Golf is cool.
(Written by Coach Robert Dargan, edited by John F. McCabe)