By Lee Davis
Mountain Brook’s Ford Clegg had high expectations entering the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Class 7A High School Boys Golf Championship last week.
One thing he didn’t expect was to be his team’s drop score.
On the first day of the two-round event at the Robert Trent Jones Grand National Course in Opelika, Clegg struggled to a 2-over-par 74. His score was the highest of any Spartan golfer in the opening round, so in accordance with AHSAA rules, it was dropped from Mountain Brook’s overall score. Overall, the Spartans had scored quite well, with Ben Fuller and William Wann each shooting 69, Reynolds Lambert firing a 70, and Willis Hagan carding a 71.
Clegg, a junior, wasn’t happy with his score and was determined to do better.
“It was kind of weird being the drop score,” he said. “But the fact I shot a 74 and it wouldn’t count against us was like getting a second chance.”
Clegg made the most of the opportunity. Starting off with three birdies and an eagle, he completed the front nine with a 31. Clegg earned a 1-over-par 37 on the back nine but completed a sterling round of 68, good enough to make him the low medalist for the tournament.
Even better news for Spartan fans was the overall play of the Mountain Brook team, which finished with a two-day total of 573 to out-distance runner-up Vestavia Hills’ 581 total.
“On the front nine, I was able to hit the green on two shots on the par 5s,” Clegg explained. “So I got an eagle on the sixth hole. A birdie on nine got me the 31.”
The remaining Spartan golfers also turned in solid scores to assure their team’s victory. Lambert shot a 74, Hagen scored 75, Wann recorded a 77 and Fuller fired a 78.
Clegg said he’d never played the Grand National Course before the pre-tournament practice rounds. “I used the practice rounds to get comfortable with the greens,” he said. “A golfer can adjust completely to a new course after two (practice) rounds.”
Mountain Brook’s state championship was its second in boys golf in three years and 160th in the school’s 51-year history. And the beat may well keep going.
“I’m so proud of our guys,” Spartan golf coach Alex Lockett said. “We’re losing two seniors (Hagan and Fuller), but we’ve got a bunch of young guys coming back so we should be contenders for the next few years.”