ABAC Golfers Begin Fall Campaign Today
TIFTON—With five veteran players and three new recruits, the golf team at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College tees off its fall season today with high hopes for the year ahead.
ABAC Coach Herb Hendrix begins his eighth year with the Stallions in Cullman, Ala., in the Wallace State Invitational.
“I believe we’ll be better than last year,” Hendrix said. “Last year’s team was four strokes off going to the nationals.”
Freshman Robbie Johnson from Canada was a bright spot for last season’s squad when he qualified to play in the national tournament in Lubbock, Tex., as an individual.
Johnson returns to this year’s version of the Stallions along with Lee Wright from Moultrie, Clay Degler from LaGrange, Guillermo Retana from Spain, and Chris Rogers from Dawson. Rogers will serve as captain of the team.
Newcomers include Robert Doolan from Tift County High School, John Raymond Moore from Lakeland, Ga., and Andrew Penn from Lakeland, Fla.
“Andrew is from the same high school as Case Gard, who was a great player for us and is now playing professionally,” Hendrix said. “He comes to us with wonderful credentials.”
ABAC won the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XVII golf title in 2012 when the Stallions were competing in Division II and finished second to Darton in 2013 when ABAC moved up to NJCAA Division I.
The Stallions finished ninth in the district qualifying tournament in the spring. Only the top eight teams advance to the national event. Central Alabama won the district and captured the national championship as well.
Besides practicing at ABAC’s very own nine-hole Forest Lakes Golf Club, the Stallions will also be able to sharpen their skills this season at the 18-hole Golf Club of South Georgia in Chula.
“Chip Rainey owns that course, and he offered us the opportunity to come and play there,” Hendrix said. “We are delighted with the arrangement, and we’ll host our invitational tournament there.”
Hendrix expects Darton, Andrew, Georgia Military College, Meridian (Miss.), and Central Alabama to compete in the ABAC Invitational on Oct. 12-13.
ABAC has also recruited former Tift County High School star and Valdosta State University All-America selection Chesley Gunn as the assistant coach for the Stallions. Gunn is the head golf professional at the Golf Club of South Georgia.
“I am really excited for the opportunity to share my knowledge of the game and my experience I have gained from tournament play on the college and professional level,” Gunn, a 2006 TCHS graduate, said. “I enjoy teaching the game of golf, and I’m looking for these guys to really improve as the year goes on.”
After a standout career with the Blue Devils, Gunn was a two-time All-Region XVII selection for Darton. He was a freshman when the Cavaliers won the national championship in 2007.
At Valdosta State, the Blazers finished in the top 10 in America when Gunn was a junior and in the top 15 in the country when he attained All-America honors as a senior.
The Stallions will also play in tournaments this fall at Darton and Central Alabama. ABAC begins its spring season in February in preparation for the NJCAA Region XVII tournament on April 3-5 in Albany.