By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Northeast Mississippi high schools produced four of the six state championships won in golf this spring.
The one thing all four programs – Baldwyn (2A), Corinth (3A), Itawamba AHS (4A) and Tupelo (6A) – have in common is they all have players who played on the Northeast Mississippi Coca-Cola Junior Golf Tour.
“I feel like the Coca-Cola Tour had a lot to do with our winning (state),” Baldwyn coach Michael Gray said. “Our junior golf in North Mississippi is great.”
The 17th annual tour – for boys and girls ages 10-18 – kicks off its eight-tournament summer season Tuesday at the Natchez Trace Golf Club in Saltillo.
The two-day Pros of Tomorrow at the Tupelo Country Club, scheduled for July 13-14, is a double points stop. The TCC will also host the Tour championship Aug. 1-2.
Tucker Jenkins, who won last year’s boys 12-13 age division Tour championship, played on Baldwyn’s state championship team. Jenkins and teammate, Clayton Gray, finished second (Gray) and third (Jenkins) for 2A medalist honors.
“The players get a lot of tournament golf experience,” Michael Gray said. “We make it a prerequisite to play in at least four (Tour) tournaments to play on our team.”
Tupelo won its second consecutive state title in the spring with a cast of current and former Tour players, including Fletcher Johnson, Wilson Reeder, Noah West and Austin Rose.
Others who have participated on the Tour are Chad Ramey, the 4A state medalist from IAHS; Austin Bynum, the 1A state medalist from West Union and Adam Hall, the 5A medalist runner-up, from Saltillo.
“I know I use the Coca-Cola Tour as a measuring tool for high school tryouts in the fall,” Tupelo coach Mark Enis said. “I’ll look back at the scores. I like to see how they’ve played in tournaments.
“The Tour is very beneficial for our team.”
Added Gray, “It gives you a chance to meet others and make friends. You play different courses, learn the rules and learn how to compete against others.
“I think it’s great.”