By Michael Hall - The Brunswick News
The College of Coastal Georgia golf teams will tee off their fall seasons today at the fourth annual Coastal Georgia Fall Invitational.
Both the Mariners’ men’s and women’s teams will be playing today against some of the top NAIA competition in the country.
The No. 1 ranked men’s team is coming off of two consecutive NAIA national championships but lost four All-Americans to graduation. With only one senior, five juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen, men’s coach Mike Cook said the tournament will be a good chance to see what this year’s team can do.
“This is the strongest field we have had,” Cook said. “There are a lot of ranked teams.”
Among them are No. 4 Johnson and Wales (Miami), No. 5 University of South Carolina Beaufort, No. 12 Keiser University (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), No. 15 Thomas University (Thomasville) and No. 16 University of Mobile (Ala.).
“This should be a good test,” Cook said. “We are kind of seeing who we are.”
Senior Trevor Smith and junior Harrison Stafford give Cook two returning players he knows he can rely on, but several transfers could have an early impact.
The Mariners also boast three local products. Glynn Academy graduate Carter Lawson will be playing as a freshman while Paxton Shuman, a Brunswick High graduate, and Tucker Anderson will be playing as juniors.
All 17 men’s teams will tee off at 8:45 a.m. with a shotgun start at Sea Island’s Retreat course on St. Simons Island. They are scheduled to play 36 holes today and 18 on Tuesday.
The women’s tournament will begin on Jekyll Island’s Pine Lakes course with a staggered start. The Mariners’ tee times are likely to be scheduled around 9:45 a.m., coach Nicole Johns said.
She will be seeing what her 29th ranked women’s team is made of as well. Johns said her team could climb the rankings this year more quickly than in years past.
“This is a good way for everyone to back into the swing of things,” Johns said.
Senior Sarah Gilliard will be counted on for some low scores throughout the season and will be going up against the defending national champions in Dalton State this week, meaning the tournament will feature both the men’s and women’s NAIA national champions.
The women’s tournament is only 36 holes, with 18 played today and 18 played Tuesday.