Harrison Hughston

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Harrison Hughston


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Bunkerkings

The 2017 Calhoun County Boys Golf Championship is a tournament that I will always remember, but for a bittersweet reason. The tournament was held at Pine Hill Golf Course in early April. At the time, the top five players on the golf team were Jacob LeCroy, Jack Svenson, Buddy Ray, Holden Abernathy and me. We were strong contenders for the tournament this year, but our main opponent, White Plains, were always hard to beat at their home course, Pine Hill. On the first day of the tournament, we shot a 318, a disappointing score that landed us in third place. We were three shots away from second place and five shots away from the lead. The second day, we responded with a strong score of 307, which put us in a tie for first place with a two day total of 625 with our rivals White Plains. This led to a thrilling one-hole team playoff on the final hole.

When I first heard of the news of the team playoff hole, I was excited for what was about to happen. I quickly heard that the fourth and fifth player from each team would play together and tee off first, then the third, second and first player from each team will play together and tee off last. Before I knew it, I was being carted off to the eighteenth tee to play one hole for the county championship. The eighteenth hole at Pine Hill is difficult, but fair. In other words, what you see is what you get. The tee shot is a straight shot with trees on both sides of the fairway. There is big oak tree on the left side of the fairway, so you must either hit your tee shot on the right side of the fairway or hit it long enough to get under the oak tree. The fairway runs into a lake, but at the time I thought it was too far to reach. Once you get off the tee, the hole becomes tricky. The lake at the end of the fairway extends to the left, splitting the fairway in two. Assuming you hit a good tee ball, you have two options: lay up to the left side of the lake or go for the green, going for the green means you would have to hit a long shot over the water and onto the uphill green, which was guarded by two bunkers on both sides of the hole. To say the least, the 18th hole at Pine Hill could turn into a eventful hole, especially in this all or nothing circumstances.

If you know anything about golf, you know that playing in a group of six is very unusual, so the fact we were playing this way just added to the suspense. When we arrived to the tee box, Buddy and Holden were set to tee off first, facing White Plains’ fourth and fifth players. Everyone in that group hit good tee shots, but I thought we had the early advantage, since my teammates hit good shots. Once the first group started to approach the green, we were ready to tee off. I hit a great shot right down the middle of the fairway. Jack hit another good ball, and Jacob hit another perfect ball. Only one player from White Plains hit a good shot. The other two players hit their balls too far right, almost out of play. When we started walking to our balls, I heard the news that Holden made an eight and Buddy made a six, and the players from White Plains carded a birdie and a par. When I got the end of the fairway, I still did not see my ball. Jacob and Jack were sitting in a good spot, so I was not sure where my ball went. Finally, a spectator shouted that my ball went into the lake. Sure enough, when I approached the lake, I saw my ball lying along the bank. I had no shot; I was forced to punch out backwards towards Jacob’s ball. The two White Plains players that were out of play hit their second shots into the water. Both Jacob and Jack hit their approach shots short and right of the green. I hit my third shot into the right greenside bunker. That is where things started to get interesting.

When I was walking up to the green, I was only focused on my next shot. I addressed my ball in the bunker and hit it. The only problem was that I did not get the ball out of the bunker. I had chunked it in front of about 200 people. As if that were not embarrassing enough, I addressed the ball for a second time and did the exact same thing. Surely, I thought, two times was enough, I was wrong. I got over the ball and chunked for the third time in a row. At this point, both Jack and Jacob had chipped their balls onto the green and the three other White Plains players were on the green, too. After my fourth shot in the bunker, I finally got the ball out and hit it to about twenty feet. The crowd applauded out of pity, and I could not have felt more embarrassed. I finished up the hole with two more putts, which gave me a quadruple bogey. Jacob and Jack both made bogies and we lost the championship.

After accepting our second place trophy, I learned that Holden had made the same mistake I made. It took Holden three shots to get out of the same bunker. We were given the name “Bunkerkings” for our atrocious bunker play. This has been the most embarrassing moment and biggest choke of my golf career to this day, however, it motivated me as well. The next year, in the 2018 Calhoun County Championship, the “Bunkerkings” bounced back and beat the rest of the field winning by sixteen shots! Because of this experience, I have dedicated more time to my bunker game, and I have become a better player because of it. Most importantly, it has become a funny moment and story to look back on to see how much I have grown.

Please click on the arrow below to hear Harrison’s Senior Reading.