Prince George Golf Team on the Upswing
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Aug 17, 2012, 12:55
The Prince George High School golf team poses for a photo before a practice round at Jordan Point Golf Club in Hopewell.
HOPEWELL – Chatting alongside the first tee box at Jordan Point Golf Club in Hopewell, Prince George High School golf coach Earl Burton looked on as freshman Wesley Warren pulled out his driver and smacked one – long and true – down the fairway.
The veteran coach stopped mid-sentence to marvel at the shot.
“Look at that, that’s a freshman right there,” Burton said, as if he was still trying to digest what he had witnessed.
Such surprises have become commonplace when the upstart Royals take to the course. Boasting the coveted combination of young talent and senior leadership, the Royals hope to be on course for a successful season.
Burton, who is in his 29th season at the helm, expects at least two freshmen – Warren and Austin Britt – to consistently crack the team's Top 6.
Meanwhile, senior Nathan Britt, Austin's older brother, and junior Mark King will lead the charge as the No. 1 and No. 2 players, respectively. The Royals will only be lacking the contributions of Zane Joyce, the lone senior in last year's starting lineup.
“We always lose a couple seniors,” Burton said. “But this is really the crux of the team we had last year.”
So far, the results have been promising.
After sustaining a gut-wrenching, one-stroke loss to Monacan in its season opener, Prince George bounced back on Monday to beat Hopewell and Varina in a tri-match at Jordan Point.
To date, Burton has been pleasantly surprised by the play of his freshman duo, both of whom carded qualifying scores against the two sets of Blue Devils.
“Anytime you look to have young players on your team, you’re building for the future,” Burton said.
Of course, the guidance of a four-year veteran doesn't hurt either. Nathan Britt, who posted the match’s lowest score on Monday, laid claim to the team’s No. 1 spot as a junior after playing less prominent roles as an underclassman.
“When I was a freshman and sophomore, my role wasn’t consequential,” Nathan Britt said.
He added that the leading role comes with an extra helping of pressure, but said he enjoys it nonetheless. Burton said the team relies on the calming influence of Nathan Britt and King, a third-year player.
“I’ve got such good leadership from the kids that have played for me,” Burton said. “They set a good example for my younger kids because they know the things that we stress, the right way to dress and how to carry themselves on a golf course.”
Despite the solid start, now is not the time for the Royals to rest on their laurels.
The team will endure another non-district test on Monday, this time against perennial Central Region powerhouse Deep Run.
The tough non-district slate was no accident. Burton pieced together the strongest schedule he could in an attempt to prepare his team for a trying district campaign, which begins on Aug. 29 against Dinwiddie.
“We need some good competition,” Burton said. “You don’t want to schedule teams that you can always beat.”
There will be more than a few talented opponents once district play is underway.
A match against frontrunners Thomas Dale looms on Sept. 10 and Prince George will play host to Matoaca one week later. Burton identified those two teams as favorites, but the Royals are unwilling to concede defeat just yet.
King, who hopes to shoot below par at least once this season, said he is confident that the team can play with anyone.
“If we all play well, we honestly can beat anybody,” King said. “It’s golf, so you never know what’s going to happen.”