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Coach: Nathan Newell

The Grenada High School Golf team more than tripled its roster over the summer while preparing for a tournament season that was bumped up by eight months.

Coach Nathan Newell took over the GHS golf program in the spring of 2023. The members consisted of only four boys, barely enough to make a team. One girl, Abigail Crouch, came on late in the season, and Newell enlisted her help to recruit more girls to play. 

Jump ahead to the summer of 2023, and there are eight boys and five girls on the roster — just in time for tournament season as the Mississippi High School Activities Association moved the school golf season up to August through October. 

Newell said the new golf season may have contributed to the boost in team membership. “We’re getting more golfers who might otherwise be playing other spring activities like baseball, softball and tennis,” he said. 

The only negative Newell has seen is the August temperatures, which extended into the high 90s and low 100s for a couple of weeks early in the season. “I felt bad for them during the first match,” he said. “They had to walk and carry their clubs over nine holes. It was miserable.”

Regardless of the weather, Newell said golf is a year-round sport. “I tell our players, you can’t just pick up the golf clubs during the season. You’ve really got to make sure you’re playing year-round. Putting, chipping, driving — all those things are tied in together and really affect your score in the end.”

Newell holds seasonal practices after school at Dogwoods Golf Course in Grenada Lake’s Hugh White State Park. Since most of the team members are beginners, he spends a lot of time on fundamentals. The players spend most of their time hitting range balls, working through all the clubs, before ending with 20 minutes of putting practice.

“In my opinion, putting is where you save your strokes in the end,” Newell said. “It’s not about how you drive, it’s how you arrive.”

The team’s schedule this fall consists of 12 matches at various courses, from the home site, Dogwoods, to the University of Mississippi course in Oxford and Mallard Pointe in Sardis. Teams from other schools bring their top players, and winning teams are determined by individual scores.

Newell said there is tough competition in the 6A division. “ Our guys and girls aren’t complaining. They’re getting after it and having a good time.”

Newell, an avid golfer for years, said it’s a fun, laidback sport, and even seasoned players must deal with inconsistencies in their game. He tries to emphasize the fun aspects to his players while training them to be competitive. “I challenge my players but let them know they don’t have to go out and shoot even par every time,” he said. “All I ask is that they try and get better each time they step out on the course.”