Terry Sanford has a rich history in the annals of N.C. High School Athletic Association boys’ golf, with multiple team and individual state championships.
The current squad looks to add to that history in the next couple of weeks as it takes the final steps on a road it is hoping will end with the 2023 3-A state title.
The trek begins on Monday when the Bulldogs host the 3-A Mideast Regional on their home course, Highland Country Club.
Terry Sanford only has two seniors on this team, Alex Schenk and Hugh Cameron, but each has an impressive resume. They posted finishes of second and third place in their most recent visits to the state championship round.
They recently wrapped up the All American Conference regular-season title with a total of 2,061 strokes. That’s 314 strokes better than second-place Harnett Central.
Bulldog head coach Jeff Morehead said all team members are consistent golfers who are good off the tee and have no weaknesses that stand out.
They also get along well with each other, adding that they have grown up playing the game together.
Squad members include freshman Charlie Horne; juniors Ethan Paschal, Thomas Horne and Parks Helms; and seniors Schenk and Cameron.
The standout to date has been Paschal, who finished the regular season with an average 9-hole score of 33.6. He was the only golfer in the conference with an average under 35.
Morehead said Paschal has what he calls the “it” factor. “He wants to be the best on the course at all times,’’ Morehead said, adding Paschal has displayed consistently good approach shots that set himself up for good birdie opportunities.’
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Paschal, who has been playing since around the age of eight, said people who saw him play early told him if he practiced he might be good at the game. “I feel like I’ve progressed a good bit and taken some good steps in my career,’’ Paschal said. “Everything can be a little bit better. I’m trying to get better every single day.’’
Both Morehead and Paschal agree that playing the regional at Highland will be a major advantage for the whole Bulldog team.
“The guys know Highland inside and out,’’ Morehead said. “They know where they can miss and they know areas they need to avoid. Local knowledge is a big thing in any level of golf.’’
Paschal said his focus on Monday won’t be thinking about pressure. It will be about having fun in another round at Highland. “It’s another day of golf, just us and the course,’’ he said. “Hopefully we play our game.’’
The Bulldogs will have to fare well as a team Monday if all of them hope to advance to the next round at the Foxfire Red course for the state tournament.
Morehead recently played the course to get a look at it, but Paschal said he doesn’t believe any of the Terry Sanford golfers have experience there.
Paschal said Morehead gave the team some insight on what to expect at Foxfire.
“There are definitely some birdie holes out there,’’ he said. “Certain holes are long.’’
If the Bulldogs make it to Foxfire, Paschal knows there will be pressure on him as well as the team to do well. He said he’s learned better how to deal with that.
“Our game is all based on confidence,’’ he said. “Just having confidence now, I think I can handle the pressure.’’
His focus is for the team to have fun and do its best.
"That’s all you really can do,’’ he said.
Earl Vaughan Jr. is on Twitter @EarlVaughanJr.