The Eagles have won two of their last five tournaments, and coach Phil Dutko is pleased to have the team playing so well, especially with the Region 5AAAAAA championship just a couple of weeks away.
The Eagles’ latest victory came Saturday at Eagle Watch Golf Club, just a few miles north of campus. Recording a team-record score of 300, Etowah won the 16-team Kell Golf Classic by 14 strokes.
Nick Budd led the Eagles with a 2-under 70. Following Budd were Adam Cross (76), Jake Forbes (77) and Jake Haggerty (77). Jason Hammaker struggled with his putting and finished with an 84.
Dutko said the win meant a lot because of some of the competition that the Eagles faced, including four of the top teams in the state from last year.
“Any time you beat teams like Harrison, Lassiter, Walton and Milton — Milton won the state championship last year — it’s a good thing,” Dutko said. “When you beat that echelon of teams, especially coming off the disappointment of the county championship, we saw that the boys had the ability to rebound.”
In the Region 5AAAAAA championship, set for April 23 at Cobblestone Golf Course in Acworth, Etowah will see some of the teams it faced at Eagle Watch — including Lassiter, Milton and Walton.
“Going into the tournament last weekend, we knew that we were going to face Milton, Walton and Lassiter,” Dutko said. “They are the top three teams in our region. It was a test to see how our talent would stack up against them. I think the boys showed that, if they put it together on the same day, they are just as good, if not better, than those teams. It’s just a matter of putting it together on one day. But it gave us confidence that, at the region tournament, we can finish in the top four and make it to sectionals.”
Dutko said that because his six golfers are all capable of putting up scores in the low 70s, Etowah has an advantage in that it doesn’t have to count on any single golfer to carry the team. Still, Budd has remained a driving force.
Even when the Eagles let the county championship slip away, Budd was solid, shooting a 79 in poor conditions.
“Our No. 1, Nick Budd, has been able to separate himself,” Dutko said. “It has given himself the confidence that he can do that a lot more often — shoot in the high 60s and low 70s. He is that type of player, and he still has a few more years to play here because he is only a sophomore.”
Etowah will play Pope on Thursday at Kennesaw’s Pinetree County Club before taking much of the next week off. Their next major event will be the Hardaway Invitational in Columbus on April 12 and 13. The 36-hole event draws some of the top teams from Georgia and Alabama.
It’s basically the premier high school golf tournament in the state,” Dutko said.
The Eagles led the event after the first day a year ago, but they slipped to third by the end of the event.
Dutko isn’t promising that the Eagles will bring home a title this year, but he did say that it’s another good opportunity to see how his players stack up.
“It’s basically the premier high school golf tournament in the state,” Dutko said.