The Tupelo High School golf team has really been in the swing of things for the past three seasons.
So much in the swing that no team in the Daily Journal circulation area has beaten Tupelo since the 1994 season. That swinging attitude on the golf course has helped Tupelo win the last two Class 5A state championships.
No 5A team has ever won three in a row in Mississippi, and Tupelo coach Lee Stratton would like to have his squad become the first to do so this week.
“We’re going in as the underdog this year, where as last year, we were the favorite to win,” said Stratton, who saw Columbus beat Tupelo in the Division 2-5A Tournament Monday, which qualified both teams for the 5A state tournament. “Columbus has put a damper on winning for the third time, but the season’s not over yet.”
Tupelo’s match record this season was a very impressive 15-0. Tupelo’s match record was just as impressive the previous two state championship seasons.
They went 20-0 during the regular season last year, and won two preseason tournaments, as well as the state title. In 1994, Oxford was the only team to bet Tupelo.
“It’s been good players and good work habits,” said Stratton, who has won his division golf tournament eight out of the 10 years he has been in charge of golf at Tupelo. “We’re not as strong this year as far as overall scoring compared to last year, but we’ve picked our spots well.”
One of Tupelo’s best spots this season was a duel match April 18 at Big Oaks Golf Course against Itawamba AHS, which qualified for the 4A state tournament. Tupelo recorded a two stroke win over IAHS, 158-160 in that match.
“It was not our best score of the season, but it was our best match,” Stratton said. “We were 14-0 coming in and they were 10-0.”
Two seniors pace the Tupelo effort in 1996, Jay Elmore and Phil Davis. Elmore has the best stroke average for Tupelo at 38.8 for nine holes, and Stratton feels that Davis (40.3) has been coming on recently.
Other members of the Tupelo squad that will travel down to Jackson are Jason Ling, Keith Rutledge and Bret Johnson.
The state golf tournament is played at Shady Oaks Country Club in Jackson. The Class 5A tournament will be Wednesday and Thursday.