Pearl River teed up for official rebirth of golf program Monday
POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Five months after the reinstatement of the Pearl River golf program, the Wildcats are getting ready to hit the course for the first time in more than a decade Monday morning at Quail Hollow in McComb.
The Wildcats are led by Pearl River Hall of Famer Coby Scarborough.
"It finally hit me two weeks ago when I had my team out at practice and all of them were excited and ready to go," he said. "It brought me back to when I was on the team and the excitement that I had. It's so great to see all these athletes and see the smiles on their faces. I know that these kids have put a lot of effort into this. Just to see their expression and excitement has been amazing.
"I'm just blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity. I never thought I would be able to run a program that I was part of years ago."
Scarborough expects his team to have room to grow but can surprise people at any moment.
"First and foremost, I want these players to have fun," he said. "I think that there's going to be a lot of nerves, but it's going to be a great learning experience. I think that the more we play and practice that they'll continue to have a better feel for the game and competition. At that point, I will know my expectations moving forward. I think that we have a good enough team to compete, and we shouldn't embarrass ourselves. We might surprise some people along the way."
"I know that these kids have worked really hard and are giving it everything they got. I know they're not going to disappoint me and they're going to represent PRCC the best way that they know how to."
ABOUT THE TEAM Scarborough is excited about the outlook of his team heading into the year.
"I have a really good start as far as a team goes," he said. "I have some really good players who I think will do well this season. I have some more who have a lot of potential, but just need to keep working. I really believe that we can finish in the middle of the pack in our first season and maybe by the end of the season we will be able to grab a victory or two."
Featured on this year's men's team is Quinton Baker (Poplarville), Isaac Hickman (Picayune), Eli Rawls (Picayune; Pearl River Central), Hunter Black (Carriere; Pearl River Central), Chandler Bourgeois (Carriere; Pearl River Central), Chase Wheat (Carriere; Pearl River Central), Carson Cunningham (Carriere; Pearl River Central) and Hunter Robinson (Purvis).
The former PHS Hornet, Baker, looks to be impactful in 2022.
"Quinton is a great athlete. He played high school golf, football and baseball," Scarborough said. "I expect him to be one of my top five players. I expect him to be at every event. I expect him to break 80 and maybe shoot low 70s. He does have the ability to do so. He's been out here just about every day since the spring semester has started. I expect great things out of him this year."
Hickman comes to the Wildcats just one year removed from winning an MHSAA Championship with the Maroon Tide.
"Isaac has a lot of experience coming to us," he said. "I expect his ability, comfortability, and experience in his high school golf and transfer that to us. He's a great golfer. He hits the ball a long way and I think he will be in my top five every week. He has the ability to be up for some individual honors at the end of the year."
Black is another athlete that Scarborough thinks can have success this season.
"Hunter played three years of high school golf at Pearl River Central," he said. "He's got the competitions under his belt and he knows what to expect. He's one of my top five and I expect him to be at every tournament. His game has changed since high school. He's hitting the ball a lot longer, hitting more greens, and putting better. He hasn't broken 80 yet, but I expect him to shoot in the 70s by the end of the year.
Scarborough expects the former Tornado, Robinson, to be a force this season.
"Hunter is an interesting golfer. He's probably one of the best on the team. I was lucky to get him on my team. He signed to play baseball but was going to redshirt. Since he was redshirted, Coach Avalon let him come play golf. It's been a blessing. I think he can win some tournaments this year. He's very focused and very dedicated. It wouldn't surprise me if he won one or two tournaments and is a medalist. If he keeps practicing and playing he could end up going to nationals at the end of the year.
Cunningham is another golfer that Scarborough expects to be at every tournament.
"He's got the experience as far as playing," he said. "He's going to take his high school experience into the college season. He will more than likely be in my top five and compete at all the events. He's shooting mid-80s but has the game to shoot lower with a bit more practice. He's got a lot of natural ability but with more practice, he can be even better."
Bourgeois is another experienced golfer on the team.
"Chandler played high school golf at Pearl River Central," Scarborough said. "He's newer to the game but it comes to him naturally. With a little bit more work and more repetition, I expect him to be top six or seven on our team and make a tournament or two.
Scarborough sees a lot of potential in Rawls.
"Eli is a new golfer," he said. "He's been the player who has been out there every day for the last year. He's really been an inspiration to me because I've seen so much growth in him over the last year. He's broken 50 and in his qualifying round he shot 46."
Scarborough thinks that Wheat has the potential and ability to make tournaments.
"He's another one that picked up the game a couple of years ago," he said. "He can hit the ball a long way. He can score low if everything is working together. He's one of the many guys that I think could make a tournament at any time based on a good qualifier round.
In addition to the men's team, Pearl River will field the MACCC's only women's team featuring Madison Gay (Carriere; Pearl River Central) and Makaela Stockstill (Picayune).
"It's really great to have these ladies showing up and practicing every day and being part of this team," Scarborough said. "These girls are trendsetters and pioneers. They're the first to play for PRCC. I'm excited for them. Madison and Makaela both played high school golf and know what to do and what is expected. I'm happy to have them be part of this team. They have room for growth, but over these last two months, their scores and game have improved. I wouldn't be surprised to see them make a traveling squad this year."
2022 SCHEDULE The Wildcats kick things off Monday at the Southwest Invitational at Quail Hollow Golf Course in McComb. March 6-7 will see PRCC compete at the East Central Invitational at Dancing Rabbit Golf Club in Philidelphia. Pearl River travels to the Meridian Invitational at Northwood Country Club in Meridian March 21-22. The MACCC Tournament will be held April 8-9 at Wolf Hollow Golf Club in Wesson. The Wildcats finish up play April 25-26 at Castlewood Country Club in Brandon for the Region 23 Tournament.