Westwood golf looks toward future growth

Drayton Queen knows that playing for the Westwood golf team can be a hard sell.

Most of those who turn out are recreational players. If there are athletes, they’re coming off of football, baseball, or basketball, and are using the sport to fill in the time in the spring.

“We had more players this year than last, and that’s what I want to see,” said Queen, the football team’s wide receivers coach who is in his third year as head golf coach. “I’m trying to build something here and not a lot of Westwood kids play golf. I wanted to grow the team and we were able to do that this past year.”

Queen got a boost to his roster this year when several football players and a basketball player joined the ranks. Quarterback Ahmon Green, who signed to play football for Georgia State in the fall, joined along with wide receiver Cam Atkins and defensive back Justin Jones. When Westwood basketball wrapped up its postseason, Mike Peay hit the links.

“Cam was one of mine and Ahmon was really close to me,” Queen said. “It was easier to talk them into playing. I didn’t know if we were going to have enough players this year, and then with them joining we had more than enough.”

The only matches the Redhawks were involved in were a win over Keenan Tuesday, March 10, and a loss at Dreher Thursday, March 12. All through the week, thoughts turned to what South Carolina would do when the COVID-19 global pandemic would impact the state.

“A lot of were asking questions about what were we going do this week, what were we going to do next week,” Queen said. “They had cancelled March Madness and other sports and seasons were getting cancelled, and they had their eyes on that.”

When the team walked off the course that Thursday, Queen said he gave them the day off the next day. Gov. Henry McMaster issued his order to close the schools Sunday, March 15.

“I never saw the team after That Thursday,” Queen said. “I texted them that the schools were closed for the next two weeks, and of course it was for another two weeks and then for the month of April, and all of May.”

The end of the season meant that Green, Atkins, Jones, and Peay—along with senior Nina Skaudis, who golfed with the boys because Westwood has no girls team—played their last golf game as Redhawks as of March.

While all school related activities were shut down since March 15, some golf courses still stayed open, provided they adhered to strict regulations that adhered to social distancing. If the players were able to or wanted to, they could keep up with their swings if they couldn’t do so on a school team.

Because Westwood golf does not yet have a core of players who golf year-round, Queen said his mission is different. So when next year rolls around, the Redhawks won’t be gunning for a state championship as much as they will be taking to the course for the enjoyment.

“I’m already looking forward to next year. I know I have a couple of kids coming back,” Queen said. “I don’t know how good we’re going to be, but my job is more in getting them to enjoy the game than us being competitive. I want them to be able to come out and do something they love to do rather than go for a state championship.”

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