This spring, several local golfers were aiming high in pursuit of state championships. Although their seasons ended prematurely, three of those golfers and two coaches have been rewarded by the AHSAA.
Two local male golfers — Auburn High’s Luke Holmes and Central-Phenix City Tucker Crowson — were selected to the South boys team of the AHSAA’s North-South All-Star squads, while Auburn’s Morgan Jones made the South girls team. Auburn’s Adam Byrd was chosen as the coach of the South girls team, while Smiths Station’s Alex Davis was selected for the South boys team.
“It meant a lot knowing that all my hard work has paid off,” Holmes said. We all started preparing mid-summer and focused on the team more than ourselves so we could have a chance to compete at state.”
In total, the four teams are comprised of rising seniors who were chosen by a special coaches committee from nominations received from AHSAA member school golf coaches. The All-Star teams won’t face off this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it doesn’t make the honor any less special for those selected.
“It means the world. I’ve poured my heart into the game since I started in fifth grade, and I couldn’t have gotten where I am today without the help from all my former and current coaches,” Crowson said. “Golf isn’t like a 9-to-5 job. You have to pour your heart and soul into the game and be dedicated to it. I fell in love with the game as soon as I picked up my first golf club. I’ve had my ups and downs, and it feels great when you’re holding a big trophy in your hand.”
The unexpected close to the 2020 season was especially tough to swallow for Jones and Byrd, who were part of an Auburn team aiming for their third straight state championship.
The Lady Tigers already had a tough start to the spring after the team’s first tournament was canceled due to weather, but the season’s cancellation officially ended their hopes of winning again in 2020.
Jones’ selection to the team was a nice consolation, plus the early end of the year has her and her teammates eager for 2021.
“It’s such an honor to be named to the AHSAA All-Star Golf team along with some of the other talented golfers in the state. We all have put a lot of time and hard work into this, and it feels great for it to pay off,” Jones said. “Coming off this past as 2018 and 2019 state championships, we had some high goals for the 2020 season. We have a lot of talented players, and we were all eager to compete this year.
“It was unfortunate that the season was cut short, but we have our sights set on the 2021 state title.”
Byrd has seen the efforts of Jones and Holmes up close, and his selection as coach has added to an already big year that included Byrd being named the National Federation of State High School Association’s 2018-2019 Girls Golf Coach of the Year.
For Byrd, having two Auburn golfers make the team honored the boys and girls’ programs status as some of the most competitive in the state. Additionally, Byrd has already gotten the sense from his returning players that they’re eager to accomplish quite a bit come 2021.
“They definitely earned it. The players who made the team I know really well. The big thing about them is the amount of maturity they possess is unbelievable, especially with young people competing to play at the kind of level that they do at such a young age,” Byrd said. “They’re ready, and they’re excited. Last year was our chance to win state maybe a third time — at least an opportunity to. With the season being canceled, that season is out of the way so we’re still up for that.
“They’re ready to, again, get out and make up for missing tournament play in the spring.”