The Lowcountry has a well-deserved reputation as a premier golf destination with stunningly beautiful courses and talented local players. With the help of golf programs at area high schools, Hilton Head Island and the surrounding communities are sure to maintain that reputation for years to come.
The golf teams at local high schools are among the best in the state. What gives them an edge? Local golf coaches discuss their love of coaching and weigh in on what sets their players apart from the competition.
Living in an area that's known for golf — with world-class courses and ample opportunities to play on them — definitely gives Lowcountry high school golfers an advantage, according to Bluffton High School golf coach David Crosby.
“There are a lot of good players in the area,” he said. “It is a golf community, and golf is a sport that you've got to be playing three to five times a week to really excel in. The players that do excel in this, they're playing all the time; they're traveling and playing tournaments year-round. It doesn't stop with high school golf for them, either; it escalates to different channels.”
Crosby has more than 10 years of coaching experience and is currently in his seventh year of coaching at Bluffton High, where he coaches both the girls and boys golf teams. Under his instruction, the school's girls golf team took home two state championships — one in 2009 and another in 2011. Crosby credits the team’s success to talented and respectful players, many of whom he instructed in his previous role as a golf pro.
“I grew up in this area and I've been a golf pro around here,” he said. “I've worked with a lot of these kids and watched them grow up. Over the years, we've had a very outstanding golf program.”
Crosby loves coaching, particularly having the opportunity to reach students who need a little extra attention to flourish.
“I coached (youth) football for eight years,” he said. “I just think anything you can do for kids is a great thing. There are some kids that don't have the attention they need; the parents are too busy, and you're able to step in and be a mentor to them. It's very gratifying.”
Hilton Head Christian Academy golf coach Doug Langhals also said that having opportunities to play regularly translates to success on the links.
“I am spoiled to have a lot of golfers that play year-round and focus solely on golf,” he said. “We have a very solid and deep team.”
Langhals is in his 11th year of coaching, and his team has a long list of titles to show for its efforts — including wins at the 2013 and 2014 South Carolina Independent School Association AAA State Championships, the 2013 and 2014 Golden Bear Invitational and the 2014 Bengal Invitational; the team also placed third at the 2014 Southern Cross Junior Invitational. Several of Langhals' students have gone on to play golf at the collegiate level, including JD Lehman, who plays for the University of Louisville. Current students Trace Crowe and Bryson Nimmer have signed with Auburn University and Clemson University, respectively.
But it isn't all about winning for Langhals, who said his favorite thing about coaching was having the opportunity to get to know his students and develop positive relationships with them.
“I love the time with the students that coaching golf provides,” he said. “No other sport gives you that amount of time to really get to know and dedicate to the students.”
The boys and girls golf teams at Hilton Head Island High School have also seen success in recent years thanks, in part, to the leadership of coach Rawn Grant, who is in his sixth year of coaching at the school. Grant is proud of his teams' hard work.
“Our girls team won lower state this past fall and were in the top 10 in 3A last season,” he said. “Our boys were third in the state meet last season, and both teams have won Region 8 AAA titles the past few years.”
Grant loves working with his student athletes and seeing how they translate what they learn on the golf course into valuable life lessons.
“I really enjoy the interaction of the student athletes and how, through golf, they learn some of the lessons of life,” he said. “Some of the things they learn are how to win as a team, how to handle defeat, being part of a team in a sport of individuals, and how to conduct themselves on and off the course.”
For more information on the golf program at Hilton Head Island High School, call 843-689-4806 or go to http://hhh.beaufort.k12.sc.us/pages/Hilton_Head_Island_High_School/Athletics. Hilton Head Island Athletics is also on Facebook and Twitter.
To learn more about the golf program at Hilton Head Christian Academy, call 843-681-8297 or go to HYPERLINK "http://www.hhca.org/athletics.html"www.hhca.org/athletics.html.
For additional information on Bluffton High School's golf program, call 843-706-8800 or go to HYPERLINK "http://blh.beaufort.k12.sc.us/pages/Bluffton_High_School/Athletics"http://blh.beaufort.k12.sc.us/pages/Bluffton_High_School/Athletics.PHOTOS BY HHI SPORTSHOTS